By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e and following) prohibits the federal government from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Well, somebody needs to get a copy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into the hands of Arleen Ocasio, the Torquemada who is currently serving as the Director of the Houston National Cemetery, because she appears to be entirely unfamiliar with its contents.
Ms. Ocasio is making a career out of trampling on the constitutional and civil rights of people of faith, and doing so with malice aforethought.
Here is just a partial list of Ms. Ocasio’s hateful and discriminatory bigotry, directed at people on the basis of their religion, all of which puts her in direct violation of federal law.
1. In late May, Ms. Ocasio prohibited a pastor from offering a Memorial Day prayer in the name of Jesus, apparently oblivious to the fact that whatever else the First Amendment does, it certainly prohibits the federal government from dictating the contents of anyone’s prayer. Ms. Ocasio was determined to “prohibit the free exercise” of Pastor Scott Rainey’s religion. Thanks to the intervention of Liberty Institute (read the full legal complaint here), her bigotry was stopped in its tracks.
Ms. Ocasio insists that all prayers offered in the cemetery must be “inclusive.” Since it is perfectly appropriate to pray for everyone in the world in the name of Jesus - no one left out, no one omitted, all inclusively brought to God’s attention - a prayer offered in the name of Jesus is as inclusive as you can possibly get.
2. But Ms. Ocasio was not done with her oppressive and unconstitutional tyranny - she removed the Bible from the Houston National Cemetery chapel. (And here we thought we past that whole book-banning thing in America!) Someone needs to bring Ms. Ocasio out of the Medieval Period and into the bright light of the 21st century.
3. Not content with book banning, Ms. Ocasio then closed the chapel altogether, removed its cross and Star of David, and converted the chapel to a storage room. She silenced the carillon, which prior to her coup d’etat had tolled hymns throughout the day. Instead of being a place where hymns were sung, Scriptures were read, and prayers were offered, it became a parking garage for golf carts.
4. Not content with that display of governmental bullying, Ms. Ocasio began interfering with the private burial rituals performed by the VFW. The VFW has been performing these rituals without objection at veteran’s funerals since 1914. Ms. Ocasio dictatorially told the VFW that they could not so much as provide texts of possible prayers to grieving families for consideration, and that family members could only offer prayers of their own that had first been edited by federal bureaucrats, again in a blatant breach of the First Amendment.
5. Ms. Ocasio has forbidden Honor Guard members from saying, “We ask that God grant you and your family grace, mercy, and peace” as they give grieving family members the shell casings from the 21-gun salute. Ms. Ocasio was unable to produce any written policy that authorized this Stalin-esque heavy-handedness.
The VFW has been allowed to use the 23rd Psalm as part of the burial ritual, but only because, according to one of Ms. Ocasio’s lackeys, it does not include the word “God.” This is bizarre since the first word in the Psalm is “the LORD,” a reference to God’s personal name, Yahweh. This obviously indicates that cemetery bureaucrats not only have no constitutional authority to interfere but are theologically illiterate and thus should be kept as far away from the prayer-writing business as possible.
6. Ms. Ocasio’s enforcers even prohibited American Heritage Funeral Home employees from thanking everyone for attending the service, and further told them that they would not be allowed to show families any texts for possible prayers or show them the VFW ritual ahead of time, on the grounds that they would be trying to “influence” the families. As if keeping grieving families in total and complete darkness about their funeral options is not trying to influence anyone!
7. An organization called National Memorial Ladies (NML) attends about 60 funerals a week at the cemetery, to honor veterans and console their families. They give consolation cards to the families, and before Ms. Ocasio’s thuggish reign, would write “God Bless You and Your Family” in the cards and would often say “God bless you” or “We’re praying for you.” Not any more. Do that now, and Ms. Ocasio will have you thrown out on your keister.
During a meeting with NML leaders, Ms. Ocasio flatly declared that that NML volunteers could no longer speak or write religious words or messages such as “God,” “Jesus,” or “God Bless You.” Further, she made clear that her spies would attend every funeral and crack down on violators.
Worse, Ms. Ocasio sends her henchmen out to intercept families coming into the cemetery for a service to keep them from requesting the full VFW ritual, which includes prayer. They do it deceitfully, by saying things such as, “All you want is Taps and the 21 gun salute. That’s all you’re expecting, correct?” The confused - and grieving - family members think they are just being asked to confirm that the family wants the VFW ritual. But they have just been fooled into unwittingly excluding God from the ceremony altogether. This kind of manipulation and deceit is beneath contempt. When cemetery bureaucrats there have gotten busted in the middle of pulling off this kind of scam, they haven’t been embarrassed in the least. In fact, they stalk off in an angry snit, their plans to stamp out religious freedom in America foiled again.
Thus this petty little tyrant, Arleen Ocasio, has banned God from Houston National Cemetery, and will not allow families even to invite him in if so inclined. Talk about a failure to have an “inclusive” policy! Disinviting the God who created her is about as exclusionary as Ms. Ocasio can get. Maybe somebody needs to introduce her to the Declaration of Independence and its shocking mention of the “Creator” with a capital “C.”
If anybody needs to get thrown out of the Houston National Cemetery, it’s the Christophobic bigot Arleen Ocasio. And the sooner the better.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)