PDA

View Full Version : Judge orders VA cemetery to allow Jesus (in Memorial Day prayer)



megimoo
05-27-2011, 02:10 AM
A federal judge slapped down the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday, saying it can't stop a pastor from using the words "Jesus Christ" in his Memorial Day invocation at Houston National Cemetery.

"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 wrote in his order, granting the Rev. Scott Rainey's motion for the court to intercede.

"The right to free expression ranges from the dignity of Abraham Lincoln's speeches to Charlie Sheen's rants."

Rainey, lead pastor at the Living Word Church of the Nazarene, asked Hughes to prevent the cemetery's caretaker, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, from telling him what he can say in a prayer on Memorial Day after the agency asked him for the first time to submit the prayer for review.

"I was shocked," Rainey said. "I've heard of this happening in other states and other locations."

For the past two years, Rainey has given the Memorial Day invocation at the cemetery to honor U.S. soldiers who have fought and died. And each year, he's mentioned Jesus Christ, without complaint. The invocation is sponsored by a private group, the National Cemetery Council for Greater Houston, but held at the Houston National Cemetery, which is public property.

Told to edit prayer

Rainey's prayer, less than a page long, includes the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and closes with one reference to Jesus: "While respecting people of every faith today, it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that I pray. Amen."


http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7583145.html

Novaheart
05-27-2011, 02:41 AM
The article is unclear on whether this is actually a private event in a public cemetery or if it's an official VA ceremony.

If it's a privately organized event in a public place, the the judge is absolutely correct.

If it's actually a VA event, then they can control content. I would imagine that the minister will not be invited next year. Problem solved.

MrsSmith
05-27-2011, 07:06 AM
The article is unclear on whether this is actually a private event in a public cemetery or if it's an official VA ceremony.

If it's a privately organized event in a public place, the the judge is absolutely correct.

If it's actually a VA event, then they can control content. I would imagine that the minister will not be invited next year. Problem solved.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...

So long as our government insists on infringing on the free speech rights of Christians in our country, the problem remains. The government has absolutely no right to cross that wall of separation and order specific religious speech.

Gingersnap
05-27-2011, 10:03 AM
I believe that even the military has acknowledged that Christian clergy can invoke the name of Christ in prayer. That was a big issue 3 or 4 years ago.

Muslim chaplains can use "Allah" in their own prayers for the same reason even though a substantial number of Christians and most orthodox Jews do not agree that "Allah" is just another name for the God Christians and Jews worship.

Novaheart
05-27-2011, 01:12 PM
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...

So long as our government insists on infringing on the free speech rights of Christians in our country, the problem remains. The government has absolutely no right to cross that wall of separation and order specific religious speech.

The preacher (or you) can chant the names of gods all day long on your private property, on other property you have permission to use, or in the public square.

A guest speaker at a government organized event is subject to the conditions of his invitation. The organizers of an event are entitled to control the expression of that event, even if it's on public property.

Example:

On most days the beach is open to the public for beach activities. On Easter Sunday, the public beach is reserved for sunrise service. You cannot walk through the sunrise service with a boom box playing Elvis, even if you did it the day before at exactly the same time. It's a special event, a reservation of public space for a specific expressive use.

Novaheart
05-27-2011, 01:15 PM
I believe that even the military has acknowledged that Christian clergy can invoke the name of Christ in prayer. That was a big issue 3 or 4 years ago.

Muslim chaplains can use "Allah" in their own prayers for the same reason even though a substantial number of Christians and most orthodox Jews do not agree that "Allah" is just another name for the God Christians and Jews worship.

Again, if this is truly an event organized by a private group, then the VA has no business directing the message. If it's truly a VA organized event, then the VA can demand that the content be neutral.

Gingersnap
05-27-2011, 03:02 PM
Again, if this is truly an event organized by a private group, then the VA has no business directing the message. If it's truly a VA organized event, then the VA can demand that the content be neutral.

As I said, I believe this already been litigated. Religion is by definition not "neutral". Every faith has distinctives that are protected during worship; prayer is worship. The military can certainly limit worship events but this kind of worship seems to have been already analyzed. ;)