Tag Archives: veteran’s affairs

Chaplains Group Sues VA over Religious Freedom

In a fascinating case, the Conservative Baptist Association of America has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs, essentially alleging that a VA chaplaincy training program is intentionally preventing them from sending chaplains to VA and military medical centers:

The actions of the Secretary within the San Diego VA-DOD CPE Center establishing a secular, humanist and holistic religion which excludes mainstream Judeo-Christian beliefs discriminates against CBAmerica Chaplains, prevents them from practicing their religious beliefs, have forced them out of the program and will, if not corrected, prevent future CBAMERICA Chaplains from completing the program and practicing their faith in the health care facilities serviced by the program.

The VA-DOD CPE Center is responsible for preparing chaplains to serve in military and VA medical facilites around San Diego.

The lawsuit (PDF) relies on the experiences of two CBAmerica chaplains, Read more

Congress to Codify Religious Rights in Funerals

Last year a Houston Veterans’ Cemetery director was accused of banning all religious references from funerals occurring at her facility (as well as using the chapel as a storage shed, among other things).  A lawsuit was filed, and settled.  The consent decree prohibited the cemetery, then run by Arleen Ocasio, and the VA from interfering with or prohibiting religious references in the ceremonies.

This year, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) has sponsored a bill that would codify in law the ruling in that consent decree.

Problems arose in Houston when the cemetery director misinterpreted [the] law to prohibit all religious speech.  Read more

Consent Decree Issued in Case of VA Prayer Censorship

In a little-reported conclusion to the lawsuit accusing a Texas Veterans’ Affairs cemetery of censoring religious content, Federal District Judge Lynn Hughes signed a consent decree largely acknowledging the validity of the accusations.

The consent decree contained 50 individual points, though it applied only to the Houston National Cemetery, and the VA reiterated it felt some of the decrees were already VA policy.

Notably:

  • The Cemetery is prohibited from interfering with prayers or Read more

Senator Calls for Investigation into VA Censorship, Atheists Defend

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate allegations that a VA cemetery in Texas has been censoring “God” and “Jesus” from ceremonies.  From the Senator’s letter to VA Secretary Erik Shineski:

I am…greatly concerned by the complaints my office has received from veterans and their families that the Houston National Cemetery Director has forbidden the name of God or Jesus to be used during funeral services at the cemetery, even if the family wishes to do so. Our veterans swore to uphold the Constitution with their lives, and they and their families’ religious freedom should be honored, not prohibited. [emphasis added]

I am requesting that you look into this situation to determine if there are indeed any religious prohibitions or restrictions on speech or religious expression at the Houston National Cemetery. I would also ask that you determine if this situation is unique to the Houston Cemetery or if there are policies in place that might lead to religious prohibitions or restricted speech at other veteran cemeteries.

The controversy started around Memorial Day, when it took a court injunction to allow a local preacher to say “Jesus” when he prayed.  Now the complaint has Read more

Military Chief Faces Criticism over Role of God in Military Funerals

The head of the armed forces is embroiled in a controversy over the proper place of “God” in military funeral rites — but its likely not the problem you think.

The Israeli military is embroiled in a public battle over whether God ought to be mentioned at memorial rites for fallen soldiers…

The controversy is over whether Yizkor, the Hebrew prayer of remembrance, should begin at military ceremonies with the words “May God remember” or “May the people of Israel remember.”

Military policy calls for the version mentioning God to be used, but enforcement has been patchy in an apparent nod to the sentiments of the Jewish state’s secular majority.

It is a seemingly odd controversy for a nation that is often assumed to be religious in some form.

Back home in the US, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Texas is Read more

Judge Rules Government Cannot Control Prayer…Twice

Many have now heard of the Texas High School graduation that received a court-ordered ban on prayer, including the specific words “amen, invocation,” and the like.  U.S. District Judge Fred Biery had ruled against the Medina Valley Independent School District in a lawsuit brought by the Schultz family.  Biery had determined they would “suffer irreparable harm” if they heard to a prayer at the ceremony.  The ruling was appealed, overturned, and the graduation went on as a celebration of freedom of speech and religion.

That wasn’t the first controversial ruling on prayer in Texas.

In a ruling that was largely under the radar, Texas Judge Lynn N. Hughes said the Department of Veteran’s Affairs could not control the content of an invited Pastor’s prayer.  The Reverend Scott Rainey, pastor at Living Word Church of the Nazerene, had been invited to give an invocation at a Memorial Day event, and was asked to provide Read more

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