Veterans Home Bible Study Restored, but Federal Intervention Sought as California Still Denies Vets’ Speech Rights
Sacramento, CA—Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has secured the restoration of a Bible study for elderly residents of the Veterans Home of California. But PJI attorneys will continue to fight for full restoration of religious freedom in the Home.
Last week, PJI launched DefendArtis.com, which tells the story of PJI client Artis Breau and her Bible study attendees. The site includes poignant video of veterans and their widows relating what the Bible study has meant to them, and the shocking suppression of their rights by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). The site also includes a petition visitors can submit on the veterans’ behalf, calling on President Trump to investigate CalVet.
Late this past Friday, shortly after PJI launched DefendArtis.com, CalVet announced that it would allow the Bible study to resume, effective immediately, after it had been shut down for weeks. However, CalVet continues to insist that it can investigate and substantiate allegations against Artis and her fellow residents for expressing religious views it deems “offensive,” and even for discussing heaven and salvation.
“We are encouraged that CalVet realized it could no longer prohibit and threaten the veterans’ Bible study,” stated PJI President Brad Dacus. “At the same time, the agency’s position that it can continue to punish religious expression it deems discourteous or offensive is unacceptable. We’ve won an important first round in this battle for these heroes, and we are committed to seeing this through to complete victory.”
PJI began representing Artis Breau last fall when staff at the Veterans Home complained that she had committed “emotional abuse” and “elder abuse” by allegedly causing another resident to lose sleep after a discussion about heaven and hell. Last week, CalVet admitted the allegation was unsubstantiated. In December, the Veterans Home suspended Artis from all volunteer opportunities after she set up a Hannukkah display that enraged the paid Rabbi at the facility. Breau, a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus), included with her menorahs and similar objects a scripture passage about Jesus going to the temple during Hanukkah. Last week, CalVet substantiated the allegation that Artis’ inclusion of her Jewish beliefs in Jesus was knowingly offensive to others. In March of this year, a CalVet attorney threatened “involuntary discharge” of Artis from the Home if she did not immediately halt her longtime Bible study.
PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds, who defended Artis in an investigatory interview in March and has now written numerous letters on her behalf, commented, “What we’ve seen at the Veterans Home of California should concern every freedom-loving American. Of all people, our veterans and their widows from the Greatest Generation should enjoy the greatest blessings of liberty—not the least. We’re not about to let up until these veterans have complete freedom.”
PJI strongly encourages readers to visit DefendArtis.com to see firsthand the powerful short video of the Veterans Home residents and submit a petition to President Trump on their behalf.