Today, Liberty Institute launches a series of videos of those most affected by the Houston National Cemetery’s policies and procedures banning the mention of God and prayer during funeral services at the cemetery. Liberty Institute will be back in court on Monday at 9 a.m. for a status conference with Federal District Judge Lynn Hughes in the Rainey et al. v. VA et al. case, which began when Liberty Institute client Pastor Scott Rainey was told he couldn’t pray in Jesus’ name at the cemetery.
The three-part video series features statements from members of the VFW District 4 Honor Guard, National Memorial Ladies volunteers, and deceased veterans’ families who were negatively affected by the VA’s policies and practices banning “God” and prayer.
Truth Bomb #1: Veterans Speak Out, “We Just Want to Do Our VFW Ritual”
For more than 20 years, the VFW District 4 Honor Guard has performed the VFW burial ritual, which was written and approved by the VFW National Council of Administration nearly 100 years ago and includes references to God, at the Houston National Cemetery.
The new Houston National Cemetery Director Arleen Ocasio divided the almost century-old VFW burial ritual into two segments: so-called “core elements,” consisting of the flag folding and presentation, Taps, and the rifle salute; and the so-called “additions to the core elements,” speeches with religious elements by the Commander and prayer by the Chaplain. Director Ocasio originally told the VFW District 4 leadership that they could no longer do the “additions to the core elements,” i.e., prayer and speeches referring to God.
Subsequently, Director Ocasio mandated that families had to request the entire VFW ritual in writing, while prohibiting the VFW or the funeral homes from telling the families of the elements of the burial ritual or sharing the text of the ritual with them. Official VA policy prohibits the full ritual, unless specifically requested.
Director Ocasio also told VFW District 4 Honor Guard Vice Commander Nobleton Jones that he was not allowed to have direct contact with families to hand them shell casings from the rifle salute as he recited the words, “On behalf of the United States of America, a grateful nation, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I present you with these shell casings from the shots that were fired to honor our departed comrade. We thank him for his honorable service to our country. We thank you and your family for your support. We ask that God grant you and your family grace, mercy, and peace.”
Please visit www.DontTearUsDown.com to sign our petition asking the VA to stop this religious discrimination.