In recent weeks, I’ve passed along a few reports that a decade or two ago would seem unbelievable. Whether it was a group protesting a street sign honoring those who died on September 11, 2001 or NBC creating a Pledge of Allegiance uproar by leaving out the words “under God” from their television presentation, the country seems to be going downhill fast. Unfortunately, the examples continue in the form of veterans being told that they cannot use the words God or Jesus during funeral prayers and a liberal city government recoiling at the idea of saying the Pledge at city council meetings. What’s the world coming to?
First, we have to go no farther than my own city of Houston. As reported by Fox News, “Veterans in Houston say the Department of Veterans Affairs is consistently censoring their prayers by banning them from saying the words ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ during funeral services at Houston National Cemetery.”
Three organizations — the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion and the National Memorial Ladies — allege that the cemetery’s director and other government officials have created “religious hostility” at the cemetery and are violating the First Amendment. According to court documents filed this week in federal court, the cemetery’s director, Arleen Ocasio, has banned saying “God” at funerals and requires prayers be submitted in advance for government approval, MyFoxHouston.com reports.
[T]he new allegations come one month after a controversy surrounding Pastor Scott Rainey’s prayer in Jesus’ name at a Memorial Day service in the cemetery. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled May 26 that the government couldn’t stop Rainey from using the words “Jesus Christ” in his invocation. Hughes issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from censoring Rainey’s prayer.
You read it correctly. These veterans are saying that prayers must be submitted for review. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. It appears that Big Brother is alive and well, and he is residing right here in America.
“We were told we could no longer say ‘God bless you’ and ‘God bless your family,'” Marilyn Koepp, a volunteer with the National Memorial Ladies, told the MyFoxHouston.com. “How did I feel? I probably shouldn’t say how I felt because it was absolutely appalling that this woman would come aboard and tell us we cannot say ‘God bless you.'”
Then there is the story of the city council in Eugene, Oregon. The Associated Press is reporting that the liberal city council can’t even come to agreement on saying the Pledge of Allegiance before city council meetings.
One council member, Mike Clark, suggested several weeks ago that the council begin reciting the pledge at every meeting. The council compromised, voting this week to recite the pledge at four meetings: those closest to Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July.
Clark had proposed reciting the pledge at every meeting as a counterbalance to some of Eugene’s traditions. He specifically mentioned the annual Eugene Celebration, a three-day event the city launched in 1983 that features music, various performances, a parade and a “slug queen” created as a humorous reference to the shell-less cousin of the snail common in Eugene and many parts of Oregon.
So, the Pledge only merits recitation four times per year. In the Fox News report of the same story, City Councilwoman Betty Taylor (who voted against saying the Pledge) is quoted comparing the Pledge to reading from “The Communist Manifesto.” Another city council member, George Brown, said, “People can say it in their front yard or backyard. … It really doesn’t help move the city business forward. It does not unite us.”
We certainly live in crazy times, and the only way to fight back… is to fight back. NBC faced an avalanche of complaints when they tampered with the Pledge. Government officials have no business telling people that they can’t say God or Jesus, and they certainly should not turn their back on the simple acts of patriotism that help unite the country. Being an American has to mean something. It can’t simply be the land upon which we live.