Federal judge blocks VA from censoring pastor’s Memorial Day prayer


by khou.com staff


Posted on May 26, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Updated Thursday, May 26 at 10:18 PM

HOUSTON  -- A federal judge has blocked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from censoring a pastor's Memorial Day ceremony prayer.

Pastor Scott Rainey, of the Living Word Church of The Nazarene, was told by the VA that if he did not remove a reference to Jesus in his prayer, he would not be allowed to provide the invocation.

The VA argued that using the name Jesus in the prayer excluded other beliefs held by veterans.

Federal District Judge Lynn N. Hughes granted a temporary restraining order Thursday that prevents the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Houston National Cemetery from blocking Rainy.

The judge ruled that the government acted with discrimination and violated the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment by censoring Rainey. 

The Liberty Institute, a non-profit constitutional freedom advocate, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday requesting the temporary restraining order.

"We are grateful that we live in a nation where religious freedom and our veterans are honored. Hopefully now government officials will understand that they cannot intervene in a private ceremony and tell citizens what they can and cannot pray," the Liberty Institute said statement released Thursday.

Click here to read Rainey’s prayer.
Click here to read the lawsuit.