Gov. Tim Kaine
Thousands of petition signatures are being delivered to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine from citizens asking him to support legislation that would provide state patrol chaplains the right to pray as their conscience dictates.
“To put a limitation on prayer is an outrage!” wrote one petition signer. “This country was founded on Christian principles and to ban certain aspects of prayer is a disgrace.”
Kaine previously expressed support for an administrative decision in his state intended to prevent the chaplains from praying “in Jesus’ name.”
The issue arose from a lawsuit against the city of Fredericksburg for banning a councilman from concluding his routine council prayers – offered on a rotating basis among members – “in Jesus’ name.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor concluded in an intermediary court opinion that Turner’s prayers were “government speech” and therefore subject to censorship by the city.
Now the nearly 7,000 signatures on a growing list of concerned citizens are being delivered to Kaine by former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was removed from the U.S. military over the same offense of praying “in Jesus’ name.”
“Sir, as you’re aware, the Virginia House just passed HR2314 by a 66-30
vote to reinstate Virginia State Trooper Chaplains’ right to pray
publicly according to conscience, including prayers ‘in Jesus name,'” an accompanying letter said.
“You may be tempted to veto such a reasonable pro-faith bill, however, attached is a spreadsheet with the names of 6805 people (two-thirds are
Virginia citizens) who signed our petition to you, asking you to
reinstate your police chaplains’ right to pray publicly ‘in Jesus’
name.’ We have thousands more coming in by direct mail this month,” the letter said.
Fourteen Democrats joined 50 Republicans and two independents in approving the legislative plan in the state House of Delegates. A separate proposal failed in the state Senate, but the House of Delegates plan procedurally soon could be in that chamber for consideration.
Some of the signers had to-the-point comments for the governor, including:
- “Since when is it OK to be prejudiced against Christians? We are good people.”
- “Sir, I will pray in Jesus’ name for you and our state. Do the right thing by our State Troopers and the Chaplains.”
- “Someday we will all have to give an account before God for the things we have done while here on earth. What will you say?”
- “Please remember the examples of other Virginians like Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson who, though different in opinions, understood the importance of religious freedom. Virginia’s Declaration of Religious Freedom was one of the first government documents to codify this essential human right. … PLEASE, don’t go down in history as the man who undermined Virginia’s heritage and leadership on this issue.”
- “I am tired of Christians being treated like second-rate citizens.”
- “Thank you Gov. Kaine for stirring up Christians like myself who otherwise become complacent in our faith. It must be a very difficult job in which you try to please everyone. Take heart Gov. Kaine there is only one that you need to please and that is GOD in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I will keep you in my prayers and hope that you will find courage to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the author of truth before all men and reinstate the State Police Chaplains acknowledging Jesus Christ.”
- “The Founding Fathers are very disappointed in Virginia.”
- “Shame on you, Gov. Kaine.”
- “This is outrageous!!”
State Sen. Steve Martin supported the Senate plan, telling committee members, “No one should have dictated or restricted by any government entity how they might pray.”
The state attorney general’s office has determined that the plan is constitutional.
Members of the House of Delegates are working on House Bill 2314, which does not specify a particular religion. It states Virginia State Police officials cannot “prescribe, proscribe, regulate, limit or otherwise dictate the religious content of the volunteer chaplains’ expression of religious beliefs, prayers, invocations, benedictions, spiritual counseling or spiritual guidance.”
The bill was introduced by Delegate Charles W. Carrico Sr., a former state trooper.
When the rule change was imposed, six of the chaplains resigned their responsibilities rather than be forced to pray without mentioning Jesus. At the time, Kaine said he didn’t need the name of Jesus in his prayers.
“It doesn’t diminish my ability to worship my God, to pray to the Father or the Lord without mentioning Jesus Christ,” he said.
WND reported earlier when a coalition of pastors wrote to Kaine seeking a change in the policy.
“Six chaplains lost their jobs as chaplains, having effectively ‘turned in their chaplain badge’ in protest over the governor’s ‘non-sectarian’ prayer policy,” Klingenschmitt reported at the time. “They are no longer permitted to perform chaplain duties, until they comply with the prayer policy and get reinstated.”
Klingenschmitt said the chaplains “were given direct verbal orders to stop praying ‘in Jesus name’ … [and] faced with a choice between disobeying orders and violating their conscience by publicly denying the name of Jesus Christ, they resigned.”
That’s exactly what persecution is, he insisted.
Klingenschmitt, whose battle with the military over his use of the phrase remains in court where he’s seeking reinstatement, said he “cannot believe we live in a society where government officials literally dictate the content of a chaplain’s prayers and dare to punish or exclude chaplains who pray ‘in Jesus name.'”