The nonprofit group Wreaths Across America is guilty of “carpet-bombing” the country’s 155 national cemeteries with “Christian gang signs.” That is according to the leader of a group opposed to faith-based military observances.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told Fox News he’s not opposed to Christmas wreaths, but argued it’s problematic to place them on thousands of veterans’ tombstones across the U.S.
“That’s like carpet-bombing,” he told the news site. “That looks like it’s a Christian gang sign, that you’re creating territory that is a Christian territory.”
Weinstein first issued a statement against the annual holiday gesture in late November, condemning Wreaths Across America for “indiscriminately” decorating tombstones with Christmas wreaths.
“The grave sites of Christians and non-Christians alike will be adorned with this hijacked-from-paganism symbol of Christianity — circular and made of evergreen to symbolize everlasting life through Jesus Christ — whether the families of the deceased veterans like it or not,” he said.
Wreaths Across America response
Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, told Fox News her holiday-oriented organization is neither Christian nor in any way religious.
In fact, she said, her nonprofit has had a policy against laying wreaths on tombstones marked with Jewish Stars of David since starting the goodwill initiative in 1992. Worcester added Wreaths Across America has “never been asked not to” place wreaths on the graves of veterans of other non-Christian faiths, such as Islam.
Worcester noted her organization has never “placed those wreaths unless asked by the families to do so.”
“We live in a country where there is freedom of religion, and we respect that,” she said.
While Weinstein is calling on President Joe Biden to condemn Wreaths Across America for placing wreaths on tombstones without asking the loved ones of each deceased veteran for “explicit approval” to do so, Worcester is encouraging unity.
“Our kids are watching us,” the nonprofit leader said. “We need to put a good face forward and what we can be in unity and go forward as a country.”
“We’re so blessed to live in this country because of the men and women that we’re trying to honor,” she added. “We want to respectfully honor every one of them.”
Chris Rodda, research director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, rebuked Wreaths Across America for purchasing its wreaths from a for-profit company tied to the Worcesters, the leftist Daily Kos reported:
According to their latest available tax return, the Worcester’s non-profit Wreaths Across America took in nearly $25 million in donations in 2019 and then paid nearly $17 million of that to their for-profit wreath company to produce the wreaths.
Worcester, for her part, defended her nonprofit’s financial record.
“The wreaths have to be made,” she explained. “That’s that and, for many long-standing years, there is [a request for proposal] process.”
The vice president of Charity Navigator, Matt Viola, defended Wreaths Across America’s financial record, stating its practices appear to be on the up-and-up.
“It has come up before that the wreaths themselves are purchased from a related entity,” he said. “This is disclosed property on the 990 [tax form] and, assuming they are paying fair market value for the wreaths and have done their due diligence, they are doing nothing illegal or against IRS regulations.”
***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***