What are we even supposed to make of this?
Shouldn't veterans and their families have the right to decide whether religion -- and what kind -- is welcome at their own funerals? The Department of Veterans Affairs says yes. But three Texas Congressman and Christian military organizations want to strip away this basic right. Instead, they want to be allowed to impose unwanted Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served the red, white, and blue.
I really think the conservative tendency to create alternate realities for themselves is getting beyond even their control. From (of course) Fox News:
A Texas lawmaker is calling for a congressional investigation of the Houston National Cemetery after he went undercover and determined that cemetery officials are still preventing Christian prayers at the funerals of military veterans.
“The Obama administration continues to try to prevent the word ‘God’ from being used at the funerals of our heroes,” said. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas). [...]
“It makes my skin crawl that liberals are attempting to drive prayer out of a funeral ceremony for our heroes,” Culberson said. “We’re going to fix this so that no Obama liberal bureaucrat will interfere with the funeral of a hero.”
My first suspicion when I run across a story like this is mental illness. That's not meant to be a joke: I'm to the point of honestly wondering about Mr. Culberson's sanity (much less the sanity of "reporters," even from Fox News, publishing his statements with a straight face).
The underlying issue here is that families of fallen soldiers are being asked to confirm whether or not they want their memorial services to have religious references or not. (An obvious example: If the soldier was not a Christian, having a Christian pastor pipe up with repeated references to Jesus in their funeral service could be considered insulting to the family.) This seems a far more prudent thing to do than not asking, mind you, but apparently Texas Congressmen are the be-all, end-all of who needs how much Jesus talk. They say that the VA is "preventing" Christian religious references, while the VA says they're simply asking what the family wants:
While the VA couldn’t comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, it stated its support for the besieged cemetery director and provided an official statement slamming the broader accusations:
“The idea that invoking the name of God or Jesus is banned at VA national cemeteries is blatantly false. The truth is VA’s policy protects veterans’ families’ rights to pray however they choose at our national cemeteries. Put simply, VA policy puts the wishes of the veteran's family above all else on the day it matters most -- the day they pay their final respects to their loved one.”
If the VA has anything to say about it, it will continue to be up to veterans’ families whether or not to have a religious service -- and whether the religion is Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or a multitude of other faiths. The VA further confirmed that the changes advocated would mean imposing religious prayer against the wishes of the family.
As near as I can tell, the Texas lawmakers involved are demanding the opposite: Christian volunteers would be "allowed" to be present at each funeral, whether each family wanted them there or not, in order to give Christian religious blessings. Or something like that. It's honestly all so sketchy sounding that it's not even clear what species of bug Rep. Culberson has up his ass:
The VA has been even more gracious to the groups with a ‘default compromise’. They even offered to let these fringe third-party organizations participate in every official ceremony as long as they either: a) do not infringe on the establishment clause, or b) get written confirmation that such a ‘free exercise of religion’ is actually wanted by the families. Either one!
So ... really? Really, we have to do this? We have to protect a families right to have their own religion respected—or their own lack of religion respected—at the funeral of their own loved ones?