Victory: Catholic Group Will Be Allowed to Hold Memorial Day Mass at Cemetery

May 24, 2024
Court Allows Memorial Day Mass at Cemetery | First Liberty Insider

by Mia Gradick • 2 min read

Great news for our clients, the Knights of Columbus! They’ll be able to hold their Memorial Day Mass on Monday, May 27 at the Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.

Just yesterday, we reached an agreement with National Park Service, which granted a permit to allow the religious service to take place at the cemetery grounds.

You’ll recall that the NPS denied the Knights a permit, citing a new policy that designated “religious services” as prohibited “demonstrations.” That policy said religious services must be held somewhere outside the cemetery, even though other events may be held in the cemetery.

First Liberty and volunteer attorneys at the international law firm McGuireWoods LLP filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week challenging that policy. We explained that government cannot disfavor faith-based organizations and gatherings simply because they’re religious. In fact, under the First Amendment and other federal law, religion and religious groups receive favored treatment and protection.

“The Knights are thrilled that they will be able to exercise their religious beliefs and keep this honorable tradition alive. We appreciate the tremendous support of Governor Youngkin and Attorney General Miyares in this case,” said First Liberty Senior Counsel Roger Byron.

“We are grateful to the NPS for allowing the Knights to hold their service this Memorial Day,” said John Moran, Partner at McGuireWoods.

Watch this short message from Roger explaining the agreement in more detail:

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This is an incredibly important victory for the Knights of Columbus. They’ve held their Memorial Day Mass at the cemetery every year since at least the 1960s. For them—like for millions of Americans—it’s a time-honored tradition to pray for and honor our nation’s fallen soldiers.

We’re really glad the Knights will be able to hold their mass this Memorial Day. First Liberty will continue fighting for people and religious groups of all faiths so they don’t face unlawful discrimination. Like everyone else, religious groups should have an equal opportunity to honor and pray for the military heroes who gave their lives in service to our nation.

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