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Police Chaplains Resign Over Generic Prayer Policy

The line between church and state became a little more blurry when six of the 17 chaplains for the Virginia State Police resigned over new restrictions on prayer. In an effort to comply with the concept of a government free of church recognition, the chaplains were asked to offer only non-denominational services for public events and ceremonies.

According to one chaplain, he believed that this meant that using the name Jesus Christ was forbidden — a claim that a police spokesperson denies: “There was no written directive nor were chaplains specifically told in their meetings with the executive staff and colonel that they could not use ‘Jesus Christ’ in their prayer.” Even though the police issued this statement, many on the force still believed this violated their conscience. Says one chaplain, "There were several of us who felt that because of our convictions about what the Bible says, we couldn't agree to go along with a generic prayer policy."

To see what's being done about it,

.

Republican lawmakers in the state legislature are arguing that this is a restriction on the First Amendment. Their House Majority leader said, “For those of us who understand the importance of religion in American life and value the free expression of religion as one of our essential rights, the Kaine administration’s directive is disappointing and disheartening.” The state chaplain program, created in 1979, was designed to offer department employees consolation and spiritual guidance. The chaplains are putting together an online petition to get police departments to rescind the new rule. Should they?

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UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
Well said Tink. You get a big A-MEN!! :)
tink08 tink08 7 years
IN GOD WE TRUST Our country was founded upon the very principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For some people, this is a relationship to a religion or deity. We should protect this at all costs. What people forget is the text is "freedom OF religion", not freedom FROM religion. May God stay in our schools, our homes, and our country. Fight for it, people!
Roarman Roarman 7 years
Did they enter the policy force to be able to practice their Christianity on the job? If you are addressing a crowd in some type of public forum, then non-denominational services are appropriate. If an officer dies and the family is Christian, then the services of course would be in that faith. I don't see the big issue here.
Schaianne Schaianne 7 years
"People who aren't Christian may need words of solace as much as the next person. The fact that these Chaplains won't offer that to them says a lot about who they are as people." That's completely not true. What they're asking of the Chaplains is totally different. I have seen a Christian chaplain offer words of comfort to people of other faiths - I have seen them sit and counsel them - that part is not at issue here. They're talking about prayer. Prayer is inherently deity specific - the dictionary states it is the act or practice of praying to God or a god. So, you cannot ask a person of one faith to pray to a god of another faith or even all the gods - it is totally anathema and offensive to someone of faith! And yes, Christians ARE persecuted - all over the world. Persecution and oppression are 2 totally different things even if they can go hand-in-hand. Christians always have been persecuted and they always will be until Christ returns. Being in the majority doesn't necessarily mean you can't be persecuted - especially considering that Christianity is NOT the majority in lots of areas of the world.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 7 years
I'm way behind in this... but I take issue with these police officers throwing a fit about this. As former military, chaplains who are primarily one faith offer services that are more generic. It's not about what YOUR beliefs are. It's about offering comfort to all those who need it, regardless of their God of choice. People who aren't Christian may need words of solace as much as the next person. The fact that these Chaplains won't offer that to them says a lot about who they are as people.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 7 years
Steph, you're a practicing Catholic?
Michelann Michelann 7 years
Snow, while I don't think this particular case was discrimination, I do think it's a bit silly to say that Christians can't be discriminated against just because they make up such a large percentage of the country. I mean, about 80% of South Africans are black, but they were certainly discriminated against during Apartheid. Numbers have nothing to do with it.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
hynotic- I hadn't even considered that the chaplains might be volunteer, I was just thinking about the military where they are paid! Obviously, then there wouldn't be as big of an issue in mixing church and state. justanerd- it floors me when people who are part of the 90% of Americans that identify themselves as Christians claim to be discriminated against. I mean, maybe someone has said something mean to you, but who exactly are all of these people oppressing you? And if you feel oppressed, as being part of the 90%, can you imagine what people in the 1% and 2% categories must experience? "Funny thing is this country was founded on Christian principles ... and supposedly offers freedom of religion." I dare you to find "under God," in the Constitution, even just once. You will however find a provision prohibiting the requirement for a religious oath for office, and a clause asking church and state to remain separate. This protects religion as much as it restricts it. The country was founded mostly on principles taken from the Enlightenment thinkers, and many of the founding fathers can best be described as deist. This takes nothing away from your faith, because your religion is not a function of the state, so I wouldn't lose sleep over it. This isn't Saudi Arabia! That being said, Schianne- I can see a need for Chaplains to help out in police departments, given the hours the officers work, and the difficulty some may face in finding a church to attend with their schedules. Of course, there are many other professions where people work odd hours and face similar challenges, but I think it's nice to do something for people who risk their lives to protect their cities and towns. I don't see why they can't be asked to perform non-denominational group prayers for public services and ceremonies. It's not like they are prohibiting any mention of Jesus; just in mixed audiences where people might practice another religion. Isn't it nice that a Jewish person and a Christian could enjoy the same prayer at a ceremony?
organicsugr organicsugr 7 years
I'm with stephley. The way this country is going, I don't think Christians have the right to complain about anything.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 7 years
well I don't agree stephley, I don't think that two wrongs make a right, but I respect your opinions. My grandmom is Catholic too. I just think that it's discrimination to force them to leave out Jesus, you wouldn't want ayone to do that to you... but, I rest my case. I have said a lot on this post lol
stephley stephley 7 years
I'm Catholic and I think if the chaplains continue to misunderstand the difference between non-Christian and non-denominational and press the matter then maybe they should be separated from any official aspect of the force. No one's saying that in private meetings with officers and their families that the chaplains can't mention Jesus - only in services for public events and ceremonies. If that makes Christians feel they are being discriminated against, it only gives them the chance to feel what others have felt for years.
tweet-hotpants tweet-hotpants 7 years
just a note- my dad's a chaplain for a police department in colorado springs and he doesn't get paid.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 7 years
I know as a Christian I feel discriminated against just as much as others of other faiths says that they are feeling discriminated against. It's almost akin to the reverse-racism issue, there came to be discrimination against whites(as if all were racist,and wanted to disenfranchise the black man) and now there is discrimination against Christians(as if us praying in Jesus name or saying merry christmas is our attempt to put down or damper their beliefs.) And this is a country where soon Americans really do have to press one for English! I would say THAT is discrimination as well...I'm all for (within reason) welcoming people from other countries to become citizens, but I know that if one of us(American's) were to move out of the country, to say China or even Mexico,we sure would try to learn the language of the land the best we could and assimilate into their culture the best we could. To refuse to learn English/make no special attempts feels like a snub to me. But that's a whole 'nother post...or several posts... and before anyone thinks of labeling me as a racist I was a double major and one of them was black history, I marched and wrote and supported the rights of blacks in America and recieved many acknowledgements for my volunteer works so please don't be quick to judge a book by it's cover,so to speak. I know wrong behavior when I see it and I always fight for a just cause.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 7 years
UnDave, I *think* I know what you are saying, that nondenominational should mean just that- nondenominational- what I am thinking is that for these Christians it was like denying their faith in order to say a prayer that "included all God's" and to say a prayer that accepted all religious beliefs,when they strongly believe that only Jesus Christ is the way to God, the only truth, the only way. It would be very hard for me to pray and not be able to use God's name or Jesus' name: then who am I praying to? You know what I mean? I would feel like I could not do the inclusive/everybody's right prayer as well. Not because I am jumping at the bit to control other people to believe as I believe but just because that would be denying God and denying Christ for me.... in the cause of political correctness and unifying all peoples ( which I really like the idea of too because in an ideal world this would be great) the reality that this is an impossible task is neglected. It is an impossible task because God is a jelous God, and He must be glorified as The Only God, a Christian cannot go to the left or to the right with this, so prayer being non-denominational? How can that happen? And Baptists, Catholic, Lutheran,as you listed, cannot be "blended together" or "unified" in beliefs as sort of one Judeo-Christian denominations lump("et.al") because each of those belief systems is vety different from the other, that is why they seperate into seperate groups.... If you know a Catholic and a Baptist and a Lutheran you would know this. Shianne, that was really beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
"Funny thing is this country was founded on Christian principles ... and supposedly offers freedom of religion. Yet Christians seem to always be targeted and told to shut up about their faith. I may not belive in Allah or Buddha - but I believe people who do have every right to proclaim their faith. Give me, and others, the same right, please." Can we get an 'A-MEN'? A-MEN,
ceej ceej 7 years
Undave is right, they have been asked to offer non denominational prayers, not non christian. There is a vast difference between the prayers of many christian faiths and I take this to mean that at a public event everyone will feel included. I think there are much more alarming instances of the blurring of church and state than this one.
Schaianne Schaianne 7 years
I back these chaplains completely. And as someone who works in law enforcement and has for 9 years - chaplains can be there for us when regular churches are closed. Nights, weekends, holidays - we work 'em all and traumatic things happen no matter what day of the week or time of day. I don't get paid to attend church on the job nor are the chaplains here to fill that position. What they do is completely different. Most are volunteers for law enforcement agencies with a job of Pastor in a regular church. They ARE there when someone has died or something else super stressful has happened. When no matter what the people involved tried, someone still died or was seriously hurt and counseling is needed to help cope with the feelings of anxiety and/or guilt. They are called in at anytime they're needed and they provide a much needed service. They also are called in to assist the public when someone in a family dies and their regular pastor or church is not reachable. (Ever try reaching a church Mon - Sat? It's really hard to get ahold of someone!) Funny thing is this country was founded on Christian principles ... and supposedly offers freedom of religion. Yet Christians seem to always be targeted and told to shut up about their faith. I may not belive in Allah or Buddha - but I believe people who do have every right to proclaim their faith. Give me, and others, the same right, please.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I think we're making this more complicated than it is UnDave. This is not an issue of anti-Christianity this is an issue of mixing church and state regardless of religion. If it were a Muslim dominated police force it would still be inappropriate to give a specific faith based prayer. I've heard people my family members included at public events where a non-denominational prayer was given and at the end I heard them whisper "in Jesus name" there is nothing wrong with that and that is completely appropriate because you're speaking for your self and not for others. That is what this is all about speak for your self and please do not impose your beliefs on me. That is the beauty of this country that we are free to express freedom of faith as individuals. However, the presumption that the faith that holds the majority has immunity when it comes to separation of church and state simply because it is in the majority IMO is wrong.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
I agree with what you are saying, but that isn't what was asked. They weren't wupposed to ne denomination specific (Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, et al), but these are all Judeo-Christian denominations, which belive in the same Bible and celebrate the same tri-une God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). If they were being asked to deliver prayers for other religions (Budhism, Islam, etc...), then I could understand their problem with this.
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 7 years
that's true,UnDave...It says though that "There was no written directive nor were chaplains specifically told in their meetings with the executive staff and colonel that they could not use ‘Jesus Christ’ in their prayer.” Even though the police issued this statement, many on the force still believed this violated their conscience. Says one chaplain, "There were several of us who felt that because of our convictions about what the Bible says, we couldn't agree to go along with a generic prayer policy." I believe that no Christain should feel comfortable with a generic prayer policy...there is no way to" mention GOD as a universal name who according to all faiths did create all of this" as hypnoticmix suggested, or there wouldn't be so many religious wars throughout the world. Christians believe that there is one God, whom sent his only son, Jesus Christ, as an offering to pay the debt of sin we all owed, if only we will accept His gift. Christianity is the only belief that sticks to this biblical truth. So how could they compromise or blend in with any other belief system? They couldn't...
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
"In an effort to comply with the concept of a government free of church recognition, the chaplains were asked to offer only non-denominational services for public events and ceremonies." So were these chaplains Catholic or something? Non-denominational doesn't mean non-Christian. I don't understand the problem with this.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I'm wondering snowbunny11 if acting as chaplain is a non-paid voluntary position in addition to regular police duties? I need to look into that.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Oh, and btw, I have no problem with chaplains in the military, because I think it would be difficult for the people serving to always have access to an outside church to pray at. And they should hire denominational chaplains of all faiths then.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 7 years
Er, I feel for these chaplains because I am sure they feel strongly about their beliefs, but why are taxpayers even paying for police to have chaplains anyway? I think in the very least that govt.-funded religion should be non-denominational. I mean, I understand that religion is important to some people, but surely the officers in these police departments could find a private (non-profit!) church where they can practice their religion without any governmental restrictions or support.
jessielynn657 jessielynn657 7 years
Sure we all have the constitutional right to freedom of speech, but a nondenominational service serves so many more 'faiths' than specifically those who believe in christ. as ilanac said, some people practice religions without jesus and they deserve to not be bulldozed over by other religions.
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