TX Lawmakers Stand Against Censored Prayer Claims

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State lawmakers in Houston are calling for an investigation into claims that Houston National Cemetery director Arleen Ocasio is censoring prayers at military funerals.

The Liberty Institute recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of several veterans groups, claiming Ocasio and members of the Department of Veterans Affairs forbid them from saying "Jesus" or "God" during burial messages or prayers.

A local pastor also said he had to get a court restraining order against the cemetery after being told to remove "Jesus" from his prayer Memorial Day weekend.

Now, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison wants Ocasio's actions probed. Two other lawmakers have already called for the director to step down.

"She needs to be terminated and that's my opinion. I hope the Veterans Administration terminates her and gets someone in here that actually believes in the First Amendment," Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said.

On the Fourth of July, more than 1,000 Houston residents rallied against what they say is an attack on religious freedom in their city.

"If a rabbi were getting up to pray, I wouldn't expect him to pray in Jesus' name, and to tell him he should would be wrong," Liberty Institute president Kelly Shackelford said. "It's just as wrong to tell a Christian not to pray in Jesus' name."

Click play to watch Dale Hurd's report followed by comments from Verna Jones, director of the American Legion Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division.

The lawsuit also claims Ocasio said religious messages for funerals must be submitted to her for approval, and that she closed the cemetery chapel and turned it into a meeting room.

"Lack of religious freedom, lack of religious expression is not religious freedom," protestor Brett Meyer said.

"I brought my Bible because I think it's important. I need to stand up for God. I need to stand up for Jesus Christ. Somebody's got to do it. I'm here," attendee Nolan Connally added

"I just don't think that when you're in a position of public trust that she holds, that she represents the values of the people of this state and this country," state. Rep. Allen Fletcher said.

The VA responded to the complaints saying, "At all VA national cemeteries, families are free to choose and use the burial rites and rituals that are meaningful or sacred to them."

"During interments, the name of God or Jesus is not only allowed, it is freely spoken at VA national cemeteries across the country," VA officials said. "Families are equally free to have a service without religious references."

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