Anti-Jesus activists threatened lawsuits in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio
and New York this month to stop Christians from praying "in Jesus' name"
or publicly expressing their faith.
In Iowa, activist lawyer Mikey Weinstein declared victory over the
Veterans Administration, claiming the agency caved into his demands to
remove Christian symbols from the chapel in the Iowa VA hospital, and also
promised to ban Christians who sing hymns (such as "The Old Rugged Cross")
in the common-use area. Sadly, the
VA also appears eager to silence Christian chaplains, depriving veterans
who want Christian ministry in their time of need.
In North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue
the town of Clayton after Councilman Bob Satterfield bravely prayed "in
Jesus' name" to open a public meeting. "I know who I pray to, and if other
people want to pray to that chair over there, they're welcome to. It was
my turn to do the invocation, and I did it the way I know how," Satterfield
But ACLU attorney Jennifer Rudinger fired back, threatening a lawsuit:
"The law is pretty clear. The courts have ruled that it's legal to have an
invocation at government functions, but it has to be non-sectarian."
Actually, the courts have mandated no such thing. In the 1983 Marsh v.
Chambers case, the Supreme Court upheld 6-3 a chaplain's right to pray a
"non-sectarian" prayer on the floor of any legislature, but stopped short
of mandating all prayers be "non-sectarian."
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Instead, the Supreme Court specifically forbid any government from
censoring public prayers or requiring "non-sectarian" prayer content,
ruling in 1991 in Lee v. Weisman: "The government may not establish an
official or civic religion as a means of avoiding the establishment of a
religion with more specific creeds. ... The State's role did not end with
the decision to include a prayer and with the choice of clergyman. [They]
provided a copy of the 'Guidelines for Civic Occasions' and advised him
that his prayers should be non-sectarian. Through these means, [they]
directed and controlled the content of the prayers. ... It is a
cornerstone principle of our Establishment Clause jurisprudence that it is
no part of the business of government to compose official prayers."
Too bad the ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court, as the organization
advocates establishing a illegal state religion, censoring free speech,
enforcing religious conformity on everybody who prays in public, and
demanding violators be excluded or punished with government sword.
In Ohio, more evidence of anti-Jesus intimidation came in the
Legislature, when the chairman of the state Democratic Party, Rep. Chris
Redfern, walked off the floor after hearing Rev. Keith Hamblen pray "in
Jesus' name." The next day, the
Ohio clerk issued new prayer guidelines requiring "non-sectarian" prayer
content, and a 72-hour pre-authorization of each prayer offered.
"Prayers before the House should be nondenominational, nonsectarian and
nonproselytizing," the guidelines say. Sadly, even the
Republican-controlled Ohio statehouse now excludes Christians who pray "in
Jesus' name." Will anybody in Ohio call his or her legislator at
1-800-282-0253, or contact them at this
Thank God not all legislators have caved in. This month in Greece,
N.Y., the ACLU threatened a local town supervisor, demanding he enforce
"non-sectarian" prayer content at board meetings and stop praying "in
Jesus' name." But one government official bravely stood his ground and
T. Auberger said, "It is the town's position that we are not advancing
any religion or giving preference to any one faith over another.
Accordingly, it is our intent to continue our current practice." So they
protect free speech, even if somebody prays "in Jesus' name."
Scott Forsyth, an ACLU attorney, might sue. He said there's no issue
with the board having a prayer, but rather with the content. "We are
hoping the town will come in with some written policy on the subject that
conforms to the U.S. Supreme Court rulings," he
Amen, brother! I also agree with the Supreme Court. But the ACLU is
dead wrong, and deceives the public with half-truths. I therefore pray
Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina and New York will soon issue prayer guidelines
conforming to the 1991 Lee v. Weisman ruling, stating something like: "The
government may not establish an official or civic religion. We cannot
advise that prayers be non-sectarian, nor may we control the content of
prayers. We therefore welcome diversity, allowing everyone to take turns
praying according to their conscience, even if they pray 'in Jesus' name,
Gordon James Klingenschmitt is a former Navy chaplain who sacrificed
his career to help change national policy, allowing military chaplains to
publicly pray "in Jesus' name" – even in uniform. He continues his fight
to be reinstated. Klingenschmitt is available to speak and can be reached
via e-mail. He encourages
readers to sign his
petition to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.