Remember that whole bit about the pilgrims fleeing religious persecution? Seems the Department of Veteran Affairs has forgotten that our constitution guarantees "freedom of religion," not "freedom FROM religion," because they apparently ordered volunteers at the Houston National Cemetery to stop using the words "God" and "Jesus" during funeral services. As in, cemetery officials are not allowed to say "God bless you" to grieving families. (Not sure what the rule is if somebody sneezes.)
I've been trying to wrap my head around how and why this happened. It would be one thing if this were an isolated case where, say, the family of a soldier who was maybe an atheist requested that any reference to God be omitted from their loved one's service. But demanding that prayers and other words to be used at all funerals be submitted in advance for "government approval"?
This flat-out gives me the creeps, on several different levels. First of all, it's completely and totally unconstitutional, something I'd expect to deal with if I were living in communist-era Russia, perhaps, but not in the land of the free. And of all the times to mess with people's basic rights ... funerals?? I'm not a religious person myself but I have plenty of family members who are, and I can't even begin to imagine how I'd feel if I were forced to remove any mention of God from their services. Like burying a loved one isn't hard enough?
Three groups, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion and the National Memorial Ladies, are taking the Department of Veteran Affairs to court for creating an atmosphere of "religious hostility" and violating their First Amendment rights. Texas congressman Ted Poe is calling the ban on god-related words "anti-Christian," but I think it goes beyond that -- it's downright anti-human.
What do you think of the ban on "God" and "Jesus" in funeral services at the Houston National Cemetery?
Image via US Army Africa/Flickr