The National Park Service, under the Biden regime, stirred controversy by denying a permit to the Knights of Columbus, a renowned fraternal organization comprised of Catholic men, to conduct their Memorial Day mass at Poplar Grove National Cemetery.

Taking a stand against this denial, the Knights of Columbus swiftly responded by initiating legal action against the National Park Service, petitioning the court for a temporary restraining order in order to proceed with their longstanding tradition.

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In a statement issued by the Knights of Columbus’ legal representatives, they emphasized the violation of the organization’s First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act due to the Park Service’s policy obstructing their religious observances. The plea for a restraining order aimed to ensure the continuation of their Memorial Day service unabated.

This incident marks the second consecutive year in which the Knights of Columbus have faced permit denial at the cemetery, where they have solemnly gathered for the Memorial Day mass for over six decades.

In a contrasting stance, the National Park Service justified its refusal based on a new park directive categorizing “religious services” as prohibited “demonstrations.”

Unexpectedly, the tide turned as the Biden regime acquiesced and granted the necessary permit for the Knights to hold their mass at the cemetery grounds. Expressing gratitude for the reversal, First Liberty Senior Counsel Roger Byron commended Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Miyares for their pivotal support in the case.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares underscored the significance of upholding religious liberties, affirming that the First Amendment unequivocally acknowledges both religious and non-religious groups’ right to assemble for such occasions on government premises. Criticizing the initial denial, Miyares condemned the act as un-American and contrary to constitutional principles.

In a significant omission, Joe Biden, who claims to be a devout Catholic, remained silent on the matter, raising questions about the alignment of his actions with his professed beliefs.

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In essence, this episode sheds light on the complex interplay between political expediency and ideological allegiance in the decision-making processes of Democrat leaders, illustrating the delicate balance they navigate between policy stances and electoral considerations.


Original article below:

Petersburg, VA – For decades, the Knights of Columbus have honored fallen heroes on Memorial Day with a solemn event at Poplar Grove National Cemetery. However, the National Park Service (NPS) has caused controversy by refusing permission for the event in the past two years, deeming it a “religious service” and labeling it a “demonstration” under a new policy.

The NPS has instead directed the Knights to relocate their ceremony to a designated “free speech zone” nearby, sparking concerns over religious freedom and First Amendment rights.

Citing violations of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, attorneys from First Liberty Institute and McGuireWoods LLP wrote a letter to the Chief Park Ranger on May 13, 2024, urging reconsideration of the decision. The letter contends that the application of a 2022 policy on special events is being misconstrued in this case.

John Moran, Partner at McGuireWoods, stated, “Our hope is that the National Park Service will immediately correct this error and grant the permit. This policy and the decision to block 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.”

Senior Counsel at First Liberty, Roger Byron, added, “The relegation of the Knights’ service to a second class status and the denial of their religious expression represents the kind of unlawful discrimination and censorship that the First Amendment was designed to prevent. We believe this decision may have been an oversight.”

The joint letter emphasizes that the NPS regulations and Policy Memorandum 22-01 do not provide a valid reason to exclude the Knights from holding their service within the cemetery. The letter also underscores that the prohibition of the Knights’ Memorial Day service based on its religious nature constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

In response to the ongoing dispute, First Liberty Institute and McGuireWoods have submitted a motion for a temporary restraining order against the NPS in Petersburg, Virginia, seeking to secure the Knights’ right to conduct their event. The motion argues that the NPS’s refusal to allow the Knights to host a religious service violates their rights under the First Amendment and RFRA.

“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,” emphasized John Moran, Partner at McGuireWoods. “We urge the court to grant our restraining order and allow the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day.”

Roger Byron, Senior Counsel at First Liberty, expressed hope that the court would intervene, 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.”

The motion for a temporary restraining order asserts that the Knights have a strong likelihood of success in their claims that the NPS’s application of policies to bar their religious service at the national cemetery infringes upon their right to religious free exercise. The Knights seek a resolution that allows them to continue their decades-long Memorial Day tradition of conducting a mass at the revered Poplar Grove National Cemetery.

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