Tag Archives: Houston National Cemetary

Veterans Administration Settles with Veteran’s Groups at Houston National Cemetery

A victory for freedom: The Veterans Administration has settled the lawsuit filed against it by veteran’s groups at Houston National Cemetery over the VA’s attempt to stifle prayer at funerals. The key terms of the settlement:

  • The VA will not interfere with prayers during burial services.
  • The VA will not edit or control the speeches of speakers at ceremonies or events at the cemetery containing religious messages or viewpoints and cannot ban religious words in verbal communications between the volunteers and veteran’s families.
  • The VA will not ban religious speech or words like “God” or “Jesus” in condolence cards or gifts.
  • Payment by the VA of the veterans groups’ $215,000 in legal fees.

That it took a court suit to make the First Amendment clear to the VA is beyond sad.

VA cemetery director accused of censoring religious speech

Freedom of worship in modern America: The cemetery director at the Houston National Cemetery, run by the Veterans administration. has been accused of censoring religious speech.

According to court documents, [Arleen] Ocasio banned members of the groups from using certain religious words such as “God” or “Jesus,” censored the content of prayer, and forbade the use of religious messages in burial rituals unless the deceased’s family submitted the text to her for prior approval.

Court documents also describe the closure of the cemetery’s chapel after Ocasio’s appointment as director two years ago. “The doors remain locked during Houston National Cemetery operating hours, the cross and the Bible have been removed, and the Chapel bells, which tolled at least twice a day, are now inoperative,” the complaint reads. “Director Ocasio only unlocks the Chapel doors when meetings or training sessions are held at the building. Furthermore it is no longer called a ‘chapel’ but a ‘meeting facility.’” [emphasis mine]