Friday, May 27, 2011

Feds Fail to Ban Jesus from Memorial Day

After a federal judge ruled against their attempt to forbid the name of Jesus Christ from a Houston Memorial Day invocation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs quietly gave permission to the pastor to proceed with the ceremony, just as he has done the past two years.
"The government cannot gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat's notion of cultural homogeneity."
-- U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes

UPDATE 8/30/11: Veterans Sue VA Over Freedom of Speech/Religion

UPDATE 7/3/11: Houston Pastors Ask VA Official be Fired

UPDATE 6/28/11: Houston VA accused of censoring religious speech

-- From "Government Concedes: Pastor Can Pray in Jesus' Name on Memorial Day; Federal Judge Rules That Government May Not Discriminate Against Religious Speech" PRNewswire-USNewswire 5/27/11

Federal District Judge Lynn N. Hughes granted a temporary restraining order preventing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its Director of the Houston National Cemetery, Arleen Ocasio, from preventing Pastor Scott Rainey from praying in Jesus' name during his invocation at a Memorial Day ceremony sponsored by the National Cemetery Council for Greater Houston (a private, non-profit association). At a conference with the judge moments ago, the government conceded and informed Pastor Rainey that it will not oppose his prayer on Memorial Day.

An excerpt from the temporary restraining order reads, "The government's compulsion of a program's inclusion or exclusion of a particular religion offends the Constitution. The Constitution does not confide to the government the authority to compel emptiness in a prayer, where a prayer belongs."

"While I am very disappointed we had to take legal action, I am glad that the judge agreed that removing Jesus' name from my prayer is unconstitutional," said Pastor Rainey of Houston's Living Word Church of the Nazarene. "I am honored to be allowed to pray in the name of Jesus at this somber remembrance of our nation's fallen."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge Rules Pastor Can Say 'Jesus Christ' at Memorial Day Ceremony at National Cemetery" by Edmund DeMarchem, 5/26/11

. . . a month ago, Arleen Ocasio, the director of the cemetery, asked to review Rainey's prayer before the ceremony this Monday, according to court papers. The pastor agreed, but four hours later, she responded with an email saying that “while it was very well written” she asked that it commemorate “veterans from all cultures and religious beliefs” -- in other words, not just those who believe in Jesus.

Rainey called Ocasio, and she told him that if he didn't change the prayer, he would not be allowed to deliver the Memorial Day remarks, Rainey said in his lawsuit against Ocasio. But it was a private event, and court papers pointed out that the department only objected to the parts of the speech deemed too religious.

Rainey then pleaded his case to the office of the secretary of Veteran Affairs, but the department told Rainey that the cemetery's policy was “viewpoint-neutral” and “appropriate,” according to court papers.

The pastor also named the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department in the lawsuit to be allowed to refer to Jesus Christ at the invocation.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.