The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The VA, Funerals, and Religion

So, a group of legislators and clergy are trying to force the families of all people who die in military service to observe Christian funeral rites, whether the dead or their families are Christians or not.

Read more here.

Of course, they are framing this as them "standing up an protecting the rights of Christian soldiers against the godless commie liberals!" But the fact of the matter is that Christian families/servicemen are free to have Christian funerals on federal land. They always have been. They have to request them, though, just as Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and members of every other religion have to request funerals that conform to their religions so that they don't have the views of another religion pushed onto them during the funeral. It is perfectly legal, and nobody is trying to stop it.

Contrary to what these people claim, religion isn't banned during military funerals. However, the families of the deceased are not forced to have the rites or rhetoric of another person's religion thrust upon the funeral of their family member.

If you look at what's going on, these legislators are actually pushing for rules that will make a religious ceremony the default for all military ceremonies, and allow VA staff and volunteers to push religion during funerals even if it is against the wishes of the deceased or their family.

This isn't an attempt to protect Christians, it's an attempt to force everyone else to accept a specific form of religion. It'll fail when it comes to court (if the legislation even passes), and the Veteran's Administration is doing the right thing in resisting it. But, as is so often the case, despite all of the rhetoric, this isn't about standing up for religion in general or Christianity in particular, it's about domination and beating down the people who are not members of the dominant religion. It's bullying, and nothing more, and if the legislators and clergy had any sort of a sense of shame or decency, they would provide and apology and back away. But, of course, that isn't going to happen.

This is dispicable, callous bullying.

Of course, it is also unlikely that any rule requiring religious funerals against the wishes of the deceased and their family will actually stand up in court, so this is also a case where those backing it who aren't purely delusional are clearly taking up time (and the tax-payers money) to grandstand and engage in divisive politics, which is, frankly, evil and destructive.

Edit: As I searched for more information on this, I kept coming across hysterical claims that the VA was banning mention of religion at military funerals. This is not true. Religious services are allowed for families who wish to have them. The VA does not allow VA staff or volunteers to push religion into funeral services where the family of the deceased does not want them. Again, the existing rules are about people having the funeral that is appropriate to their family, and NOT having a government agency push or prohibit religious rites on those who don't want them. The people wanting a change are not trying to allow religious funerals, they are already allowed, they are trying to force them on people who don't want them.


Evan Davis said...

Yikes. Bad christians, bad.

Anthroslug said...

The irony is that I suspect most people (primarily Christians) who are taking their sides would actually be rather horrified by them if they were aware that this group is not actually doing what they claim.