Veterans Not Allowed To Use ‘God’ In Funerals At Houston VA Cemetery

by Brittany Pounders on June 29, 2011

The war on Christianity continues and now it is embedded itself in the funeral affairs of our veteran’s at the Houston National Cemetery! Limitations and violations of our religious freedoms are being used against those who have put their very lives on the line for these freedoms.  It is outrageous!

HOUSTON – Local veterans say the Department of Veterans Affairs is consistently censoring their prayers, banning them from saying the words “God,” and “Jesus” during funeral services at Houston National Cemetery.

Three separate organizations have come forward complaining the cemetery’s director and other government officials are violating the First Amendment. Members from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion and the National Memorial Ladies all complain of “religious hostility” at the cemetery.

On Tuesday they told a federal judge what’s been going on there.

“People are doing things out there that I feel like they shouldn’t be,” said Jim Rodgers, a Vietnam veteran.

“We are private citizens in a private organization, and yet we are restricted from saying what our ritual calls for,” said John Spahr, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A 26-page complaint outlines the allegations. According to the court papers, the cemetery’s director, Arleen Ocasio, bans the word “God” and requires prayers to be submitted for government approval.

“We were told we could no longer say “God bless you” and “God bless your family,” said Marilyn Koepp, a volunteer with the National Memorial Ladies.

The group attends about 60 funerals a week to honor veterans and console families.

“How did I feel? I probably shouldn’t say how I felt because it was absolutely apalling that this woman would come aboard and tell us we can not say ‘God bless you,’” said Koepp.

Nobleton Jones felt belittled when he says a government official told him he couldn’t use the word “God” in his recitation to a family as he handed them a bag of shell casings from a gun salute.

“I tell the people, ‘We ask that God grant you and your family grace, mercy and peace,’ That forth has been censored,” said Jones.

Attorneys with the Liberty Institute began investigating last month after a local pastor won his fight to say his “Jesus” prayer at the cemetery’s Memorial Day ceremony.

“When we investigated we determined the government and the director are discriminating based upon religious viewpoint,” said Jeff Mateer, general counsel for Liberty Institute.

Ocasio couldn’t be reached for comment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Hinrichs told the judge:

“We’re in the process of going through the claims. Some are true, and some are not true.”

What’s more, the veterans allege the VA turned the chapel into a meeting room shortly after the director came on board two years ago.

They say they won’t back down from the fight.

“I am going to say ‘God bless you’ until I don’t know what would make me ever stop it,” said Koepp.

So far the complaints appear to be isolated to the Houston National Cemetery. The government has until the middle of next month to respond to the allegations.

If you would like to express your displeasure at this censorship the number to the Houston VA Cemetery is 281-447- 8686.  (Thanks to a reader for sending this information!)


Anthony A. July 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Isn't the freedom to worship Christ what our soldiers have been fighting for for ages? They want to take the LORD out of everything. Soon will be a time again where Christians will have to hide they're faith in fear of persecution.

Lee E Ingle July 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

Face it, people who try and change who we are and why we are are blood sucking parasites.(ACLU)
I am so sick of this crap from trust babies and the over educated that never had a sweaty day in their
meager pathetic lives.
I am not hurt I am pissed. I had to sit through college in the 70s after nam and listen to the rants of those little spoiled marxist punks and they were the professors.
The vetrans administration is the Obama administration he had to know what his appointees are doing or maybe not. da!
I have never seen my country in disarray like this. I believe the powers that be mean it to be this way. While they move in the shadows write policy and keep the people ignorant of the truth by twisting the english language and selling false positives as fact.
Vote the bums out.


Lee E Ingle SR

Carson E. Crawford July 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

This is so disrespectful I to think that the U.S. gov.would let this happen it makes my heart hurt and so mad.I don’t know what to say but thank you to the fallen thank you to the living and Thank God for the men and wemen of the armed forces.

Thank you
Carson E. Crawford

virginia dinsmoor July 1, 2011 at 11:57 am


Wayne June 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Most if not all of our money has (In God We Trust) on it. If those people are opposed to God then they should not be carrying or receiving money with the word God on it. First they took prayer out of the schools and now they want to take God out of the world. At the bottom of the mountain, Moses said yea who serve God stand here and those who serve others stand there. After they was divided, he had God"s people kill the others. Its about time to go hunting.

SueDinNY June 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

This is total marxist facist oppression. Disgusting. Boot out the judge!!!

Morgan June 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm

This is absolutely disgusting! If someone is offended by someone else comforting another person AT A FUNERAL they shouldn’t be there. Period. God is their creator. Their comforter. Their savior. He had better be mentioned. It is our right to speak.

Angry For Christ June 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Absolutely right, Wes Freeman!!!
Only bullies "try" to impose their views -invited where no one has invited them.
The government suppose to be diligently working in fixing the big MESS of the nation they got into.
JOBS and HEALTH CARE issues, just to name shortly, the government should be working day and night.
May God bless America!!!!

AJT June 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm

So what if I say "God Bless" whomever? What are they going to arrest us? No one can tell anybody who they can and can not worship. As "Free Americans" we have the right to openly worship or praise God, Allah or any other being or object of one's choice. Our government is made up some of very corrupt individuals with their own personal political agendas.

Murder, Rape, Theft, Drunk Driving and many other offenses that harm people should be illegal and dealt with accordingly. But when they start controlling what you can and cannot say . . . then we no longer live in a free country.

Gary June 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

can you believe the ass in assistant was censored because of thought implied spelling?

Montee Wellman June 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This country is in big trouble. It's time to turn it around or we are done.

I just saw one of the Memorial Ladies being interviewed. She is way too nice and hemmed and hawed when asked if she will continue to say "God" anyway. Is she more afraid of government than the Almighty? We have been nice for way too long. It is time for Christians to stand together. I tell you one thing, I would say God even if that meant going to the jailhouse.

Bev June 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

If I lived in Houston, I'd be attending every funeral as asking the families what their wishes are. Stand with these families and veterans Houston!

VORTEX1155 June 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Then go next time and YELL…."GOD BLESS EVERYONE AND GOD BLESS AMERICA"!!!! As loud as you can!!!

cherryanne June 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm

because that's something you should do at funerals of war heroes. WBC is always looking for new members if you're that eager.

Lee Ingle July 24, 2011 at 10:31 am

You are correct in your anger but they only see it as ignorant weakness because they are so very smart. Yeah right! I have worked for organizations that have a no god policy and let me tell you they nuts and corrupt. The only options we have is vote the bums out. Or we will be praying in the dark.

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