Washington, Sep 7 -

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Mr. Speaker, recently I met with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Houston, Texas, who shared some disturbing news:

The First Amendment rights of veterans have come under attack by the Federal Government. The director of the Houston Veterans Administration Cemetery has led an authoritarian quest to remove Christianity and religion from funerals. She has banned the words "God" and "Jesus Christ" in the burial ceremonies of deceased veterans. She censors the prayers. She shut down the chapel, took out the cross, took out the Bible, and locked the doors.

Government censorship of funeral services for those who have fought and died for our country is unacceptable, unconstitutional, and un-American. The policy of the director is anti-Christian, antireligion, and antiveteran.

Today I filed the Veterans Religious Freedom Act. This bill will protect the constitutional right to freedom of religion and prohibit the Veterans Administration from censoring free speech and censoring religion. It will require the veteran cemetery directors to be veterans.

The First Amendment is sacred. Funerals are sacred. And when our veterans are buried, that soil becomes sacred. It is the constitutional duty of the Federal Government to protect speech and religion, not censor it.

And that's just the way it is.

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