By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A lawsuit in Texas centers on the practice of religion at military funerals.

From Arlington National Cemetery to the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, more than a thousand veterans are laid to rest across the nation every day.

A Veterans Affairs policy prevents the mention of religion by voluntary honor guards at funerals unless the family of the deceased gives consent before the service.

The VFW and related groups are suing the Houston National Cemetery in Texas, claiming the regulation amounts to censorship.

The outcome of that case will be felt nationwide.

Ginny Schaffer visits the cemetery in Cecil Township on the birthday of her late father, a World War II veteran.

She supports the lawsuit.

“The soldiers were praying the whole time they fought to whatever god. I don’t care if it’s Allah or Jesus or the Holy Ghost. Whoever you pray to, it should be allowed,” Schaffer said.

Ron Hestdalen is director of the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

He said the cemetery would ask the family of its wishes with or without the VA requirement.

“The family decides if they want a religious service. The family decides whether they do not want a religious service. We respect the desires and the wishes of the family,” Hestdalen said.

He said his only requirement is that services be conducted with dignity.


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