Houston VA accused of censoring religious speech
Local veterans and volunteer groups accuse Department of Veterans Affairs officials of censoring religious speech — including the word "God" - at Houston National Cemetery.
In one example cited in documents filed this week in federal court, cemetery director Arleen Ocasio reportedly told volunteers with the National Memorial Ladies that they had to stop telling families "God bless you" at funerals and that they had to remove the words "God bless" from condolence cards.
"It's just unfair that somebody would ask us to take God out of our vocabulary," said Cheryl Whitfield, founder of Houston National Memorial Ladies.
"I could've kept my mouth shut and let things happen, but when it comes to standing up for your belief in God and giving comfort to the families, I don't want to regret not saying anything," Whitfield said. "We all had to stand up for what we believe in."
The new allegations of "religious hostility" by VA and cemetery officials follow on the heels of a controversy over Pastor Scott Rainey's prayer in Jesus' name at a Memorial Day service in the cemetery.