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Judge blocks Veteran Affairs from barring 'Jesus Christ' prayer
More than 6,000 people are expected to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Houston National Cemetery.
May 27th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Judge blocks Veteran Affairs from barring 'Jesus Christ' prayer

A federal judge in Texas has told the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that it cannot censor a pastor's invocation at a Memorial Day ceremony.

The VA had ordered the Rev. Scott Rainey to remove a phrase using Jesus Christ from the prayer, arguing the line excluded other beliefs held by veterans, KHOU-TV in Houston reported.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes disagreed, writing 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," according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

Read the full story about the judge's prayer ruling on CNN's This Just In blog.
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Prayer • Texas

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Bucky Ball

    Ok. Ok. Ya got me.
    There's a reason you got the Fulbright, and I didn't.
    See ya at practice. πŸ˜•

    May 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  2. bob weitzel

    WELL THE VETERANS ADMIN. HAS GOT IT WRONG. I WISH THEY WOULD TEND TO VETS ILLNESS AND STAY OUT RELIGION!

    May 31, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  3. BillR

    The pastor did a great job!!!

    May 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  4. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Interesting. Someone has hijacked Fluffy's name here and "gone rogue". Fluffy may have to go to rodent court and get his name either copyrighted or changed.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Fluffy would like to remind the court that no self-respecting rodent would ever swear at a human. Squeek squeek.

      May 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  5. myklds

    @Zeb...you said @CW – "There are restrictions on free speech, but perhaps you think your religion does not need to follow the law?"

    On the other hand the judge (on the report) wrote: "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 ho-mogeneity,"
    --------------------------
    Were you saying that the judge was wrong on his decision? Or accused him of being biased?

    Have you read the the said law? Was the act included in the restriction?

    Do you have full knowledge on that law than the better the judge?

    You should have read the (short) blog before making a reply, or, I would presume that you do and charge it against your reading comprehension skill.

    May 28, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  6. ***dude***

    Wow, you win the "stupid name of da day" award fluffy

    May 28, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Thanks. We all REALLY appreciate your extraordinarily creative name. This arose from the collective unconscious during the rantings of grandpa Harold last week. But you don't know what that even means.

      May 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  7. Q

    I'm a strong advocate of separation, however, I believe the judge's ruling is correct. The text in question (from the full article) was, "While respecting people of every faith today, it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that I pray. Amen." INAL, but this appears to be a clear example of personal expression by a private individual invited to a public event and is protected under both Free Speech and Free Exercise. It's certainly different than a legislative act. It's also very different from a State official making the same statement in an official capacity or an invited speaker making similar statements to a captive audience required to attend (e.g. a public school graduation/assembly). In my humble opinion, if you support the protections of the Establishment Clause, it's only consistent to support the private speech protected under the aforementioned Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses.

    May 28, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Fordham Jock

      It appears the CNN article does not report the nuances of the case in enough detail to make the judgement about this case. I had assumed earlier that he was a military chaplain, acting as such for the military. He was a private clergyperson, and we can't tell from the reporting whether he was being paid by the Department of Veteran's Affairs, or not. If he WAS being paid by the VA, (and I suspect he was, as they don't go around doing this stuff, "in a professional capacity" for nothing), (and why was a "chaplain"/clergyperson asked anyway...can't anyone do a prayer?), then wouldn't he be acting as a public official ? Maybe he was acting as a professional, in a volunteer capacity. In the case he was being paid by the VA, he should have submitted to editing by his government employer. If he was just "volunteering" for the gig, then as a private citizen, he was just being insensitive, and the VA could/should have gotten "prior consent" from him about what he was going to say, before they asked him to do the invocation, so as not to cause this kerfuffle in the first place. If that's "the only way he ever knew how to pray", fine, get someone else, who is capable of being sensitive to all the service members and their families present. So either way, it looks to me like the VA dropped the ball, (and I bet he will never be asked back).

      May 28, 2011 at 4:47 am |
    • Q

      @Fordham Jack – With respect, I believe he was deferential to those of other faiths evident in his "...While respecting people of every faith today..." language, but then simply reaffirmed his own personal faith. This certainly wasn't Pat Roberston, Franklin Graham or Bradlee Dean speaking.

      Mere compensation for a service doesn't const-tute an employee – employer relationship, e.g. honorarium scenarios. I appreciate the discomfort with a single sectarian prayer at an event meant to honor a far more diverse body and I certainly agree that there were any number of better ways to handle the issue, e.g. invite multiple speakers representing a diversity of faith perspectives or as I believe you suggested, invite a speaker who could avoid engaging in some sectarian prayer all together (my preference also). Nonetheless, all the fault here lay with the VA in first inviting a single, sectarian speaker and then unconst-tutionally attempting to censor his speech. My only point was that as the VA invited him, as a private citizen, it is unconst-tutional to attempt to censor his speech purely on religious grounds. Having lost this battle, perhaps now they'll consider other more religiously-neutral options in the future...

      May 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      We do agree that the VA could have prevented this.
      I continue to maintain that his "being deferential" language, "while affirming his own belief" isn't good enough. The fact that the VA stood him up in front of this group to speak, implies that they invested him, implicitly with a sort of "authority", to speak on their behalf. And as such, I still think, was itself, unconsti'tutional. It comes down to whether or not he WAS acting as a private citizen. Could any of the other private citizens there also have stood up, and done an invocation. No. He represented the VA, because they asked him.

      May 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Q

      @Fordham Jack – Again, I think we agree more than disagree. I don't think invocations are appropriate in any official public function. However, though INAL, I would still contend that an invited speaker is simply not an official representative of the public inst-tution inviting him/her and these private individuals are ent-tled to the protections of the First Amendment.

      With respect, I believe you're exaggerating an invited speaker's influence in that true official "authority" infers an ability to directly affect/execute inst-tutional policy, a power which invited speakers simply do not possess. I believe your reference to logistics (i.e. not just anyone can get up and speak) is also an exaggeration in that the VA clearly has many different speakers at many events representing many different viewpoints. That there is a process for this selection isn't in itself an issue unless there were an official policy mandating a sectarian speaker, then of course that would be unconst-tutional. That we haven't heard of the ACLU case challenging an official policy suggests to me that is doesn't exist. However, as the position is open to any private individual absent a clear sectarian requirement, the position must be maintained absent viewpoint discrimination. This is the same reason a public transit office can't reject a church's or an atheist groups signs on the sides of their buses. Once a public venue/forum has been established, neutrality is not found in censoring the content of a given message, but in maintaining equal accessibility for different viewpoints. The one legal option, and the one I think we'd both like to see, is that public inst-tutions abstain from encroaching upon religious discourse by doing away with invocations altogether.

      Again, the one exception I'm aware of that would make an invited speaker's religious remarks unconst-tutional is when an audience to a public forum is "captive", e.g. a classroom, a mandatory meeting for public employees, etc. Even here, there are additional factors that must be considered, e.g. the invited speaker is not an individual specifically "chosen" but rather one "earning" the position (e.g. a valedictorian graduation speaker).

      The logical extension of your "invited/paid speaker is an official representative" position is that any and every public inst-tution must vet their invited/paid speaker's content for religious neutrality. This would have a broad stifling impact on speech which relates to religious opinion. Consider some of the articles in this Belief Blog regarding biblical authorship/authenticity. These types of debates between invited speakers wouldn't be available at a public university. We simply need to be able to distinguish private speech from official state inst-tutional policy/positions. Admittedly, it's not a simple clear cut line, but whenever in doubt, it's my belief that we first defer to individual free speech absent clear evidence of a systemic inst-tutional attempt to advocate a religious position.

      May 30, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Fordham Jock

      1. "Again, I think we agree more than disagree. I don't think invocations are appropriate in any official public function."
      Agree completely.

      2. "With respect, I believe you're exaggerating an invited speaker's influence in that true official "authority" infers an ability to directly affect/execute inst-tutional policy, a power which invited speakers simply do not possess."
      Disagree. I am not saying they influence policy. I am contending they offended their "captive" audience, in that he got up and "surprised" the many members of the audience who were there to honor the dead, and instead felt they were implicitly forced to agree with the preacher, by just sitting there politely, respectfully and quietly, as would anyone at a function, honoring the dead.

      3. "I believe your reference to logistics (i.e. not just anyone can get up and speak) is also an exaggeration in that the VA clearly has many different speakers at many events representing many different viewpoints."
      Disagree. The VA is not in the business of holding debates. Name one.

      4. " However, as the position is open to any private individual absent a clear sectarian requirement, the position must be maintained absent viewpoint discrimination."
      Disagree. They don't, apparently ask "random" private citizens to stand up and "do" prayers and invocations. They clearly approached a "pastor", (a person considered as holding some sort of "religious" authority).

      5. "This is the same reason a public transit office can't reject a church's or an atheist groups signs on the sides of their buses. Once a public venue/forum has been established, neutrality is not found in censoring the content of a given message, but in maintaining equal accessibility for different viewpoints."
      Disagree. Sitting on a bus, one is well aware that one may see something posted that may be offensive or disagreeable, (including the examples you state). In this case, there was clearly NO "equal accessibility". That's the problem. If even one other viewpoint HAD been given access, (a Jewish or Muslim or Humanist pastor), there probably would have been no problem, or perceived offense.

      6. "The one legal option, and the one I think we'd both like to see, is that public inst-tutions abstain from encroaching upon religious discourse by doing away with invocations altogether."
      Agree, completely.

      7. "Again, the one exception I'm aware of that would make an invited speaker's religious remarks unconst-tutional is when an audience to a public forum is "captive", e.g. a classroom, a mandatory meeting for public employees, etc."
      Disagree. They WERE a "captive" audience, in my opinion for the above stated reasons.

      8. "Even here, there are additional factors that must be considered, e.g. the invited speaker is not an individual specifically "chosen" but rather one "earning" the position (e.g. a valedictorian graduation speaker)."
      Agree, The VA should disclose their process. I suspect that the fact that the "pastor" who was in fact "chosen", was NOT a Jewish or Muslim, or Humanist, is enlightening, and may be proof of discrimination, (and I suspect that in fact there really is no "process", or policy. He was "pulled out of a hat", by the Administrator of the Cemetery, according to his personal preferences, who i suspect is as surprised as anyone by this whole "business". I would be delighted to be shown to be wrong, (or even to know who has been invited in years past to do the invocations at this place, as that would be instructive).

      9. "The logical extension of your "invited/paid speaker is an official representative" position is that any and every public inst-tution must vet their invited/paid speaker's content for religious neutrality."
      Agree. Yes it does, and they should. Public inst-itutions should not pay speakers to foist their religious opinions on anyone. There is a time and place for that (religious discussions),, and public inst-itutions are not those.

      10. "This would have a broad stifling impact on speech which relates to religious opinion. Consider some of the articles in this Belief Blog regarding biblical authorship/authenticity."
      Disagree. I know in advance what I'm getting into by looking at these blogs. Obviously anyone can say anything here, and I know, in advance, that I expect to hear many differing opinions, from almost anyone, (including from most who obviously have no education on the subjects on which they opine), (as opposed to a "pastor" who would be assumed to have some sort of "seminary" background.)

      11. "These types of debates between invited speakers wouldn't be available at a public university."
      Disagree. I suspect you are well aware that University settings are an exception to these standards, (indeed many public Universities have "Religious Studies Department"s), and are accepted to be places for public debate. On a practical basis, I would expect to hear many differing opinions at a University, (as well as have the option of simply "walking out" of a class where I heard something offensive) without feeling I was being disrespectful to the dead.)

      12. "We simply need to be able to distinguish private speech from official state inst-tutional policy/positions. Admittedly, it's not a simple clear cut line, but whenever in doubt, it's my belief that we first defer to individual free speech absent clear evidence of a systemic inst-tutional attempt to advocate a religious position."
      Disagree. I wish I could share your optimism. In my opinion, the burden is completely the opposite. That makes me a skeptic, but I am proud of that. In the end I don't see this as a "free speech" issue. This pastor can say anything he likes, but NOT at a public function. In light of other events in this region I cannot see this as anything other than " evidence of a systemic inst-tutional attempt to advocate a religious position."

      Great discussion, thanks for your very thoughtful, insightful posts ! Hope you are having a delightful weekend. Cheers.

      May 30, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • Insecure in Bel-Air

      @Fordham Jock
      It's always fun to watch you lawyer types play your little word games, but why can't you just say it like it really is ?
      Some "two bit" cemetery boss, once again called one of his "good-ole- boy" friends, to do his thing, and they got caught. Now somebody wants an explanation and they don't have one. So they start whining .
      Saves a lot of fancy time and space doesn't it.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Fordham Jock
      Not bad. But why didn't they just avoid the whole mess ? He obviously felt "empowered", (how exactly, I don't know) to say "In Jesus name we pray. Amen". Why not just stand up, put up your arm, and say "Excuse me. I don't pray in his name. (Amen)".
      Saves a lot of lawyer fees.

      May 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      @Buckminster Fullerene, (Bucky Ball).
      That probably "works for you" in our ivory tower world, (and I also would do that in our academic setting here). But we're talking "real world" here. As I pointed out above, most people could not be, (or expected to be), as assertive as you.
      There's a reason why you're the Captain, and I'm not.
      Most people, I still think, would feel that would be seen as being disrespectful, (and certainly as it's a "military" setting, the military troups in attendance would fear some kind of official retaliation).

      May 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Fordham Jock
      Ok. Ok. Ya got me.
      There's a reason you got the Fullbright, and I didn't.
      See ya at practice. 😳

      May 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Adelina

    Christians love the Jews; the Jews should net persecute Christians in USA.

    May 28, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Adelina

      I mean, "should not". The Jews must remember USA helped and is helping Israel because of Jesus Christ.

      May 28, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Adelina, STFU. They're trying to have an intelligent discussion here. Go away.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • Adelina

      Fluffy, learn what the US President remembered when the newly formed Israel asked USA for help – what his mother had said to him. That's the blood and mascle of the American heritage and strength. You just are not educated.

      May 29, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  9. frank

    isn't "lunatic preacher" a redundancy?

    May 28, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • frank

      ^@CSLILB–isn't "lunatic preacher" a redundancy?

      May 28, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      frank, STFU. They're trying to have an intelligent discussion here. Go away.

      May 28, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  10. Adelina

    Are Jews in USA having hard time recognizing they are being helped by CHRISTIAN America all along? God does not accept prayers except in Jesus' name.

    May 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Can't Stop Laughing In Laguna Beach

      OMG What an arrogant b-t-h. You know that how ? That is the most ignorant few words I have EVER read on this board. You take the cake lady. You clearly have NEVER ever taken one course in theology. You are an embarrassment to your self and you co-religionists. It's people like you that give yourselves a bad name.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Adelina

      Stupid people laugh at facts.

      May 28, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Caveman73

      @ Adelina ~ What facts? Please show the blog what you speak of. Trust me if you say your bible I can go scripture for scripture with you and totally debunk your argument.

      May 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Adelina

      @Caveman73, the fact America assists Israel for the sake of Jesus Christ in the foundational sense. But I think the Jews do not wish to hear the Name, along with atheists. I don't think you can debunk anything. You can't even capitalize English letters properly.

      May 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Adelina

      Read the facts recorded in the Gospel of John chapters 13-17.

      May 29, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  11. Jose Sanchez

    If he's working on behalf of the VA rather than acting as a private citizen, the ruling is incorrect. The story doesn't detail the arrangement the VA had with the pastor, though.

    May 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  12. frank

    Crom laughs at his puny prayer! He laughs from his mountain!

    May 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      I said, They're trying to have an intelligent discussion here! so STFU and go away!

      May 28, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  13. CW

    I believe that the Judge did the right thing. I do believe in Jesus Christ....AMEN!!!

    To all the soldiers that don't like this....I h-ate you feel this way.

    To all others that don't like it...remember the 1st amendment?...you know free speech?

    May 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • JohnR

      So if they had brought in an Iman to chant Allahu Akbar, you'd be 100% cool with that on free speech grounds?

      May 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Zeb

      @CW – There are restrictions on free speech, but perhaps you think your religion does not need to follow the law?

      May 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      That's an example of precisely the problem here. The fact that some "people of faith" don't get it, that this sort of thing is as dangerous to them, as it is to those who don't buy the religion thing is astounding. It's really not that difficult. It just happens to appear to be in your favor this time, but in fact is a threat to you also.

      Ever hear of Anne Frank ? She repeated, I heard, the famous poem by Pastor Martin NiemΓΆller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. The text of the quotation is usually presented as follows:

      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
      Then they came for me
      and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      It's really not that difficult.

      May 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Before any gathering such as this is held, the attendees should have to declare their religious affiliation and then a representative of each tribe should be invited and allowed to speak about their mythical superst!tiions, perhaps with their podium time being proportional to the number of attendees from each tribe.

      May 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Backbacon

      @HotAirAce – That almost sounds like it might work......in Canada.... πŸ˜€

      May 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • RjhonS

      JohnR...you said: "So if they had brought in an Iman to chant Allahu Akbar, you'd be 100% cool with that on free speech grounds?"

      I think it's fine as long as he will not press a pin/button and blow himself and the entire buliding.

      May 28, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • myklds

      @Zeb...you said @CW – "There are restrictions on free speech, but perhaps you think your religion does not need to follow the law?"

      On the other hand the judge (on the report) wrote: "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 ho-mogeneity,"
      --------–
      Were you saying that the judge was wrong on his decision? Or accused him of being biased?

      Have you read the the 1st amendment? Was the act included in the restriction of free speech?

      Do you have full knowledge on the law better than the judge?

      You should have read the (short) blog before making a reply, or, I would presume that you do and charge it against your reading comprehension skill.

      May 28, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  14. Keith

    Reading all the negativity that people comment on these threads just saddens me. I'd tell you all to do some soul-searching, but it sounds like you don't believe that you have one. πŸ™ I am sure that now my comment will be attacked, but that's alright because I won't see it πŸ™‚ Peace and love to all (hope that's not as alien a concept as you all make it sound)

    May 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • JohnR

      Don't worry, Keith. "Even" people who don't worship gods that torture people for all eternity understand peace and love.

      May 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Eliot

      @JohnR: God of Christians and Jews does not torture people who reject him. Their rejection of God carries its own punishment (eternal separation from God). They don't need another.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:02 am |
    • JohnR

      Eliot, I'm separated from your silly god right now and there is no pain at all! So I guess there is no hell after all, according to this new christian doctrine?

      May 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  15. Reality

    The prayer of choice by most vets to include myself:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    May 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Eliot

      I suppose you believe that the chemistry of all nature is purely an accident. That the beautiful symmetry of our atomic and molecular structure is just luck. That the entire symphony of the physical world is the fortunate result of who-knows-what. That requires a lot more "belief" than believing in a creator.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • Reality

      o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      May 28, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  16. T Targer

    As a jewish vet I still get uptight and sick to my stomach that I am excluded from the invocation of many events. Memorial Day celebrations should be inclusive of all who have served.
    THIS MAKES BE FURIOUS!!!

    May 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • JohnR

      Glad you spoke up so that SOME people understand that the hurt done is NOT hypothetical.

      My wife is Jewish and we had a marriage ceremony done by secular authorities on the theory that that would guarantee a secular ceremony. But the woman officiating started quoting extensively from the Apostle Paul, who is by far my least favorite new testament author. To preserve the peace, I stifled my rage. But it was SERIOUSLY offensive to me and unbelievably presumptuous.

      May 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Zeb

      @JohnR – You should have kicked his ass and demanded a refund for messing up your wedding like that.

      May 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • JohnR

      I don't think my wife's family OR mine would have appreciated that. But I was sick with anger.

      May 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Zeb

      @JohnR – Well I hope everything else went okay? You didn't go around looking angry afterwards, I hope. That would not have been quite the thing...

      May 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Zeb – Put it behind me quickly, but I did talk to my wife about it afterwards. Perhaps since she and her family are used to being slighted by Christians at gatherings, they all seemed less bothered than I was. For that much, I am glad.

      Ironic, perhaps, twist: My wife's sister also married a goy and they tried the "one priest, one rabbi" things. In her case, it was the rabbi who strayed over the line into the overly religious and presumptuous (saw it as his one big chance at payback, perhaps?) and it was my Jewish sister-in-law who could barely contain her rage!

      May 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Mike

      T Targer, than as a Jew I would ask that you repent for your sins, be baptized and get out of the LAW!!!

      May 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  17. Fordham Jock

    Why is it not surprising this happened in Texas ? Why do the Southern states seem to have such a problem with the "judicial temperament" qualification ?
    The US military is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century, and then they are allowed to go backwards and do this. Any pastor, (and of course it's a MAN), who doesn't have the sensitivity to be inclusive of the many men and women in his audience, IN THE MILITARY, who obviously don't agree with his particular brand of religion, ought not to have his job. Why do they need chaplains, or invocations at all, in a country that supposedly has a First Amendment.
    "The First Amendment ensures that β€œif there is any fixed star in our consti-tutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,” – Justice Robert Jackson

    Recall the judge, fire the chaplain.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Zeb

      AMEN BROTHER!!!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Karin

      Well Said!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Totally agree. There is no essential difference between the MENTALITY of this judge and chaplain, and the Fort Hood shooter. If they don't see that, as you say, they are not fit to hold their jobs.
      The judge and chaplain are obviously not violent, but the imposition of personal religious views on unwitting captive audiences should be against the law, especially by public, or publicly employed persons.
      The audience members should (re)file a lawsuit, (or appeal). Their rights were infringed upon, and they should be compensated, if, for nothing else, to act as a deterrent. It's long past the time when the military, (get it commandant at Fort Bragg), should get out of the religion business.

      May 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Fordham Jock,
      Ask any soldier who has ever needed a chaplain why they needed a chaplain…..

      May 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      @CatholicMom
      I don't want or care to know that.
      You missed the point. If they need one, go find one, absolutely. No reason to have the US government pay for, or employ them. Can't they come to your church ? Or does having people in your church, in uniform, make you nervous ?

      May 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Zeb

      @CatholicMom – Why not ask yer filthy pope what need he has for a bullet-proof pope-mobile? Is he afraid of meeting his god?

      May 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Fordham Jock

      Well said.

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Mike

      Because that South does not buy into the Liberalism of the North and California!!

      May 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      Fordham Jock
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      @Mike
      Strict literal adherence to the Consti-tution is the DEFINITION of "Conservative". The disregard by, for example, the Chief Justice of Alabama, Roy Moore, who as you might recall, was removed from office, is but one example.

      May 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      @Mike
      Str-ict li-teral adherence to the Const-i-tution is the DEFINITION of "Conservative". The disregard for that, for example, by the Chief Justice of Alabama, Roy Moore, who as you might recall, was removed from office, is but one example.

      May 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  18. ScottK

    "some bureaucrat's notion of cultural ho mogeneity" aka religious equality.

    "Ho mogenization is intensive blending of mutually related substances or groups of mutually related substances to form a constant of different insoluble phases (sometimes with addition of surfactants) to obtain a suspension or emulsion." – Wiki

    What would be so bad about that?

    May 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Frogist

      I found that phrase disturbing as well. I'm not sure, but being inclusive of all our soldiers is not, as far as I know, a bad thing.
      also mmmm... surfactant suspension... yummy...

      May 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Scott,
      Hom.ogenization is the process to achieve hom.ogeneity, not the same thing. But, I don't think the Judge picked the best wording there, especially since it seems to me as if the VA was attempting to respect the diversity, or heterogeneity, of the Armed Forces by giving a non-denominational invocation, not enforce some "bureaucrat's notion" on all.
      I also wonder if even some Christian groups might find the wording objectionable, "it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that I pray. Amen."

      May 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    If they didn't want religion entering into the ceremony, why did they invite a Reverend to deliver the invocation?

    May 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Doc,

      This is twice today that I have agreed with you. What is happening to me (or you)???? πŸ™‚

      May 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Karin

      Because what they were hoping to achieve was a speech with religious tones!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Steve
      I know!
      Maybe tomorrow morning I'll be born again and you'll start quoting Richard Dawkins – and then the sky will fall.

      May 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Doc Vestibule: Watch it. You're starting to sound like Harold Camping...

      May 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc V.

      😯

      May 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Doc Vestibule
      @Steve
      I know!
      Maybe tomorrow morning I'll be born again and you'll start quoting Richard Dawkins – and then the sky will fall.
      ------------
      If that happens, I will owe Camping an apology, 'cause the end would be near! Richard Dawkins? Isn't that the English dude from the old school Familly Feud? JOKING! Just Joking!

      @ Frogist and Peace that was 2 funny!!

      May 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Karin
      Because what they were hoping to achieve was a speech with religious tones!
      --------------–
      I disagree! It was the VA that invited him. Yet turn around and attempt to censor him because they want a speech with religious overtones? If that were true they would have never tried to censor him. My question is since he has previously prayed there before, what is difference now? It is not like the VA did not know what he stood for. I have been to events were there Jewish, Muslim, and Christian scriptures read. It was done well done. I have to blame the VA here . They invited him KNOWING what they were getting!

      May 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Steve(the real one)

      Yes, very funny between everyone. πŸ™‚

      Peace...

      May 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Ed

      Doc, this is getting scary twice in one day we agree. I think I should call lucifer see if has gotten cold down there all the sudden

      May 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  20. JohnR

    So get rid of the pastor altogether.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Can't Stop Laughing In Laguna Beach

      Agree. My dad told me this same thing happened in the Minnesota Legislature last week. Someone invited a lunatic preacher to do their invocation, unwittingly, (supposedly), and it blew up the session. They had to start it over, after they ran him out the door. This anachronistic practice needs to just go away, with witch doctors and medicine men. Instead the government could pay for retraining programs so they could become actually productive members of society.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • RjhonS

      JohnR...you said: "So get rid of the pastor altogether."

      The shortest but the most erroneous statement I ever read in CNN board.

      It deserves a full page in Guiness book.

      May 28, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • JohnR

      My own whole page! Kewl!

      May 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Can'tStop I'd love to see video of the idiot getting tossed.

      May 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.