Poplar Grove National Cemetery (File)

Biden’s National Park Service Deny Memorial Day Mass Celebrated By Knights Of Columbus In Virginia

Poplar Grove National Cemetery (File)
Poplar Grove National Cemetery (File)

Our Catholic president’s war on Catholics continues, this time at a cemetery.

According to First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty legal aid group, the National Park Service under President Joe Biden has declared that an annual Memorial Day Mass celebrated by the Knights of Columbus in Virginia amounts to a “demonstration” and must be banned.

The FLI has filed an injunction on behalf of the Knights to block the decision, the group said in a press release on Tuesday.

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“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,” John Moran, a lawyer representing the Catholic fraternal organization, said in a statement.

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

Roger Byron, senior counsel for FLI, added in a separate statement, “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,” he added, “the court will grant the Knights the relief they need to keep this honorable tradition alive.”

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As the press release noted, that tradition dates to at least the 1960s.

Each year the Knights’ Council 694 in Petersburg conducted a Mass on Memorial Day inside the Poplar Grove National Cemetery, court records say.

That changed last year.

Local Park Service personnel, citing a 2022 directive from the agency’s leadership, rejected the Knights’ request for a permit to hold the Mass at the cemetery.

The agency claimed “the Knights’ solemn event would henceforth be categorized as a prohibited ‘demonstration’ under NPS regulations because it is a ‘religious service.’”

The Knights’ lawyers note that the NPS has blocked the group by willfully misinterpreting a regulation that was first implemented in 1986 but never enforced against the Knights. 

When the Knights innocently protested by noting the NPS did nothing about a similar service at the Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia, the agency “responded swiftly and harshly by revoking that permission,” court records say.

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The NPS has countered that the Knights “must hold their sacred mass, if at all, outside the cemetery on a patch of grass near the parking lot, which they have designated as a ‘First Amendment Area.’”

“Banishing the Knights from the sacred ground of these National Cemeteries is not a reasonable alternative accommodation by any measure. Defendants’ treatment of the Knights is unreasonable, unnecessary, and unconstitutional,” the Knights’ lawyers argued in court records.

“By prohibiting the Knights from exercising their religious convictions and expressing their patriotism by praying for and honoring the fallen through a Catholic mass held inside the cemetery, NPS is misapplying its own regulations, unlawfully infringing on the Knights’ First Amendment rights and violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the added.

“And this treatment is causing irreparable harm to the Knights and those who wish to participate in their annual Memorial Day mass.”

Biden, a Catholic, has done nothing to rein in his administration’s attacks on those who share his faith.

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As the Washington Examiner reported in April 2023, Biden’s Pentagon cut ties with Catholic priests that spent years providing services to patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The Justice Department under him supported an activist who attacked a Catholic church to walk free. The agency has also rounded up pro-life demonstrators, in some cases conducting pre-dawn raids, to charge them with federal crimes for praying in front of abortion clinics. On the other hand, the FBI also has done nothing to arrest thugs who vandalized Catholic churches and crisis pregnancy centers after the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Biden’s FBI last year also circulated a memo about having agents infiltrate and spy on Catholic parishes because conservatives in the faith were seen as anti-government radicals. 

Biden’s Education Department sought to strip protections for Catholic student groups on college campuses.

Recently, the Health and Human Services Department announced that it would gut federal funding for hospitals that refused to perform or allow sex-change procedures on children, a move that would primarily affect Catholic and other religious facilities.  A year ago, HHS told a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma that a candle burning in its chapel for years that represented Christ had to be snuffed out because it was a fire hazard.   

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