Victory for Our Veterans! Judge Orders VA to End Religious Hostilities at National Cemeteries
Liberty Institute is pleased to announce a victory for the nation’s veterans, for their families, and for freedom. Since May, Liberty Institute has been fighting for religious freedom at the cemeteries run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This week, Federal District Judge Lynn N. Hughes signed a consent decree ordering the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to stop banning prayer and the mention of “God” at events, including funerals, held at national cemeteries. The case, Rainey v. VA, initially concerned the Houston National Cemetery. But when attorneys from Liberty Institute questioned authorities at the top levels of the VA, they uncovered national policies that are hostile to religion. The VA must now change these policies to ensure that religious liberty is protected. The Houston National Cemetery must also reopen its chapel, which had been closed and used as a storage room.
Honor guards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion were being prevented from praying or mentioning “God” at military funerals at the Houston National Cemetery. As a result of Houston National Cemetery’s policies, families were being deprived of the full VFW or The American Legion burial ritual. The National Memorial Ladies, who provide condolence cards to families of veterans at funerals, were being prevented from writing “God Bless.” The consent decree stops all of this unlawful religious discrimination. Jeff Mateer, Liberty Institute’s general counsel, explained, “The decree not only impacts religious freedom in Houston, but all VA cemeteries nationwide.”
Visit LibertyInstitute.org for all the details on this important victory, including the judges’ order. And, check out our new victory video on this case: