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5/24/2024 United States (International Christian Concern) On May 23, the National Park Service (NPS) reversed a decision that barred the Knights of Columbus from holding a commemorative service in Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, Virginia. 

The American Catholic organization had been conducting a Memorial Day Mass at the military cemetery since the 1960s until the NPS denied it a permit in 2023. 

First Liberty Institute, the legal organization representing the Knights of Columbus, said that the federal agency “denied the Knights a permit to hold the service in the cemetery, citing a new policy that designates ‘religious services’ as prohibited ‘demonstrations.’” 

This denial was supposedly in accordance with a 2022 NPS policy that sought to limit the sort of “activities” that could be conducted in government-managed cemeteries. These activities were described as those that “might” be permitted in other national parks but would be “inappropriate in national cemeteries because of their protected atmosphere of peace, calm, tranquility, and reverence.” 

The State of Virginia officially supported the Knights of Columbus in its battle against the NPS. The state’s attorney general filed an amicus brief supporting the Knights’ legal case in court. On the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin applauded the NPS’s decision to allow the Memorial Day service to resume. 

“Virginia is the birthplace of religious liberty and I applaud our AG @JasonMiyaresVA standing side by side with the @KofC to protect this important and worthy tradition,” his post said.

Roger Byron, senior counsel at First Liberty, released a statement that said, “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.” 

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