Veterans' Religious Censorship Suit Moves Forward

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Liberty Institute is moving forward with legal action against the Department of Veterans Affairs over a ban on the mention of God at a national cemetery.

A court hearing is scheduled for next week in the suit of three veterans groups against the VA and Houston National Cemetery director Arleen Ocasio.

They claim Ocasio participated in religious hostility and unlawful censorship by not allowing them to mention "God" or "Jesus" at recent funerals for veterans.

Nobleton Jones, a member of the VFW Honor Guard at Houston National Cemetery, said he was one of the individuals who had been censored.

"On March the 15th, she [Ocasio] said I could not say, 'We wish you and your family, that God grant you and your family grace mercy and peace,'" Jones told a reporter.

"It made me feel small," he said. "I spent my time in the military fighting so they would have the right to say that."

The Veterans Administration has denied the claims saying, "The name of God or Jesus is not only allowed, it is freely spoken at VA national cemeteries across the country."

But that statement directly contradicts what Liberty Institute lead counsel Kelly Shackleford said happened when the complaint was first made to the VA.

"We sent a letter to the VA administration. We said, 'Look, here's what's happened. This is a violation of the law,'" Shackleford recalled. "This went all the way to the highest…to their general counsel who said, 'We're not changing our position.'"

"So it really left us with no choice," she continued. "And the judge issued a very strong restraining order... saying the government cannot tell somebody how to pray, tell a pastor how to pray. And overturned that decision and said, 'He will pray freely.'"

Liberty Institiute has set up a new website for support and donations, called

"All we're asking is that the government makes things right for us," Jones said.

Houston National Cemetery director Arleen Ocasio did not return CBN News' call requesting a comment.

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Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at