The Pacific Justice Institute is taking up the defense of an 84-year-old widow of a war veteran who has been threatened with eviction from her residence at the California state Veterans Home in Yountville because of her Bible studies.
“This shocking attack from the state against our client’s exercise of religious convictions is deeply disturbing,” said PJI President Brad Dacus. “The state seeks to punish Artis based on non-existent directives, and deprive her of a personal ministry to the veterans who have benefited from her religious services for years.”
The dispute between Artis Breau and state officials is over whether she is allowed to discuss the Bible and respond to questions about it at her home in the Veterans Home.
Breau has volunteered with the chaplaincy program and led Bible studies in the Veterans Home.
“She began encountering opposition from officials last September when it was claimed that a discussion between herself and another resident about heaven and hell had allegedly caused him to lose sleep and therefore was elder abuse, emotional abuse, and otherwise illegal,” Pacific Justice explained.
In mid-December, the Home told Breau she was no longer to act as a volunteer and she was being investigated.
Then, the newest development hit.
On Friday, “PJI received an alarming email from an attorney for CalVet, claiming Artis’ Bible studies were in violation of prior directives and would subject her to ‘involuntary discharge’ from the Home,” the organization reported.
“The Home claims it needs to protect residents from this elderly widow, even though attendance at her Bible studies is entirely voluntary,” PJI said. “Artis has explained to PJI that the real issue is that she is an evangelical Jewish believer in Jesus, which does not sit well with some of the chaplains.”
Pacific Justice responded immediately to the state threat with a “strongly-worded response” and currently is evaluating the legal options available.
“CalVet’s treatment of this widow is shameful,” said PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds. “Throughout this process, we have been deeply disturbed not only by the lack of constitutional guidelines, ineptitude, and lack of due process in the investigation, but even more by the notion that discussing religious views on the eternal state of the soul is somehow elder abuse or emotional abuse.
“Our client’s husband fought for his country to preserve the freedoms now being threatened by CalVet. Our veterans deserve better.”
Breau’s late husband served as a Merchant Marine in World War II, in the famed 82nd Airborne, and then in the Air Force in Korea.
She worked as a civilian employee in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army at the Pentagon during the Korean war.
The couple moved into the home about nine years ago, and she later lost her husband
Added Dacus, “Artis isn’t fighting just for herself, but for the Gospel and for the residents who are unable to fight for themselves against the state’s attempted intimidation.”