May 23, 2024

Biden Being Sued by Knights of Columbus for Blocking Traditional Mass

For six decades, the Knights of Columbus have held a Memorial Day mass at Poplar Grove National Cemetery, but that tradition stopped two years ago.

Again this year, that will not be happening because the permit to hold the mass has been denied.

Now the organization has announced that it will be suing the administration on the grounds of religious discrimination.

Breaking Tradition

This is now the second time in a row that the organization has been declined its permit.

Prior to that, the mass had been held at the cemetery for 60 years.

The McGuireWoods law firm is representing the Knights of Columbus, filing for a temporary restraining order (TSO) against the National Park Service (NPS), which denied the permit.

John Moran, a partner at McGuireWoods, stated, “The policy and the decision blocking the Knights of Columbus from continuing their long-standing religious tradition is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“We urge the court to grant our restraining order and allow the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day.”

Alexa Viets, the superintendent of Petersburg National Battlefield, has defended the decision to block the mass, stating, “National Cemeteries are established as national shrines in tribute to those who have died in service to our country, and as such any special activities within the cemetery are reserved for a limited set of official commemorative activities that have a connection to military service or have a historic and commemorative significance for the particular national cemetery.”

The Code of Federal Regulations on this matter states, “Conducting a special event or demonstration, whether spontaneous or organized, is prohibited except for official commemorative events conducted for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other dates designated by the superintendent as having special historic and commemorative significance to a particular national cemetery.”

The NPS started to classify vigils and religious services as demonstrations in 1986, which is what the NPS used to justify its decision.

Even so, the permit had always been granted until Biden took office.

A Knights of Columbus spokesperson pointed to this, stating, “The National Park Service is way out of line.

“This is the kind of unlawful discrimination and censorship RFRA and the First Amendment were enacted to prevent.

“Hopefully the court will grant the Knights the relief they need to keep this honorable tradition alive.”

We will continue to monitor this and update as necessary when a decision has been made in the suit.

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