Houston VA and TAL Post settle lawsuit

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Houston VA and TAL Post settle lawsuit

You probably remember this story from earlier.  As I suspected would happen, the case has now been settled, and (not yet having read the agreement) looks like a total win for Free Speech.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to settle a lawsuit over allegations of religious censorship at Houston National Cemetery, according to documents filed in federal court Thursday.

Local veterans and volunteer groups had accused VA and cemetery officials of banning them from using religious speech - including the words Jesus and God - during services at the cemetery.

Fair enough, but the details seem like it was less of an agreement between parties, and more a total capitulation by VA...

The documents state that VA will pay attorneys fees and expenses of $215,000, but the government admits no liability or fault, and stresses that some provisions of the agreement already were policy or practice at the department.

Under the settlement, VA would agree "not to ban, regulate or otherwise interfere with prayers, recitations, or words of religious expression absent family objection" and to allow veterans' families to hold services with any religious or secular content they desire.

VA also agrees not to edit or control private religious speech by speakers at VA-sponsored ceremonies or events and pledges to return a Bible, cross and Star of David to the cemetery's chapel, which must remain open and not be used for storage or referred to as a meeting facility.

The Bible, cross and star would be placed "on an open shelf within, but to the side of, the Chapel, where they would be accessible and available for use by families," the documents state.


I will go more in depth on this settlement later, once it is final and I have a chance to go through it.

Posted in the burner | 3 comments
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who in the VA was the asshole banning Religious rights of the families at military funerals they need to pay the lawyer fees out of their pocket and if this is the standard f em all and get real Vets to run it

It appears that a zealous, perhaps ignorant, Houston VA official was at fault, not the VA. The VA policy, instituted during the GW Bush administration, to not allow religious speech by volunteers unless requested by the family of the deceased, seems to still be in place, which I think is appropriate. I know that zealous Christian fundamentalists believe that imposing their point of view is required. But I would defer to the bereaved family.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.