The Veterans Home of California in Yountville has threatened “involuntary discharge” if Artis Breau does not step down as a volunteer Bible study leader.
Breau came to the home with her husband nearly a decade ago and has spent much of that time volunteering with the chaplaincy program — and leading Bible studies — in the Holderman Building. Breau is being asked to relinquish her volunteer position over a discussion with a resident regarding Heaven and Hell that was deemed “elder abuse, emotional abuse, and otherwise illegal,” after it allegedly caused him to lose sleep.
According to a statement by Lindsey Sin, deputy secretary at the California Department of Veterans Affairs:
The safety, security, and wellbeing of all of our residents is our top priority. We are very proud of the religious services provided to all of our residents through our chaplaincy services. This investigation concerns the private conduct of an individual. Beyond that, we are unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.
But Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) representing Breau, characterized the conflict very differently:
This shocking attack from the state against our client’s exercise of religious convictions is deeply disturbing. 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. 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.
While there has been no formal litigation thus far, PJI is considering all legal options on Breau’s behalf.