The Daily BS • Bo Snerdley Cuts Through It!

Get my Daily BS twice-a-day news stack directly to your email.

Catholic Knights of Columbus group sues Biden for blocking traditional Memorial Day mass because service is a ‘demonstration’


A Catholic fraternity is suing the Biden administration for religious discrimination after it was banned from holding a traditional, decades-long event on Memorial Day.

The Knights of Columbus filed for a temporary restraining order against the National Park Service (NPS) in Petersburg, Virginia, after its Memorial Day mass at a national cemetery was not granted a permit this year, despite more than six decades of the event being held without issue.

The group was not granted a permit for the second year in a row despite having had a Memorial Day mass at the Poplar Grove National Cemetery every year since 1960. The NPS deemed the mass a “demonstration” and blocked the permit.

Lawyers for the Knights of Columbus Petersburg Council 694 filed the motion for a temporary restraining order on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to The Washington Times.

“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 (RFRA),” attorney John Moran said in a press release. “We urge the court to grant our restraining order and allow the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day.”

Officials at the Petersburg National Battlefield would not allow the mass to be held as it traditionally had but offered to let the group use a location “immediately adjacent to the cemetery.”

“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,” said Alexa Viets, superintendent of the Petersburg National Battlefield.

Federal regulations “prohibit the Battlefield from authorizing individuals or organizations to host a special event within National Cemeteries to protect the atmosphere of solemnity, quiet contemplation and tranquility within this space,” she told The Washington Times.

A 2022 update to NPS policy designates “religious services” as “demonstrations” and therefore disqualified from being held at national cemeteries, as First Liberty Institute, which represents the council, pointed out.

“The National Park Service is way out of line,” Roger Byron, First Liberty senior counsel,“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.”

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *