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.”
Good call by Judge Hughes regarding a ludicrous edict by a VA bureaucrat.
(05/27/2011 UPDATE): The Chronicle reports that the VA made this arrogant “concession” to Judge Hughes:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Hindrichs told federal District Judge Lynn Hughes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will not demand that Memorial Day prayers at Houston National Cemetery on Monday be as non-denominational as possible.
“(The agency) will let the prayer go on this Monday,” Hindrichs told Hughes.
No, the VA won’t “let” Rev. Rainey’s prayer go on as it has in the past. Rather, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures that it will. The VA and its attorneys and petty bureaucrats need to get that part straight.