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Expunging Christ from our lives: Virginia state police chaplains told Jesus is off-limits

Virginia Gov. Tim KaineThe latest assault on Christianity and the ability of human beings to profess their faith publicly comes from the state police.

Earlier this month, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the State Police superintendent, made a decision that is supported by the governor that state police chaplains will no longer be able to mention Christ [1] in their public prayers.

This prompted harsh criticism from Republicans, most notably House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith who issued this release:

Kaine Administration prohibits State Police chaplains from mentioning Jesus Christ

Chaplains step down over Administration directive

House Republicans decry “misguided” action by Kaine Administration

Richmond, Virginia, 24 September 2008: Several State Police troopers who serve as chaplains for the Department have resigned those duties over a Kaine Administration directive prohibiting the troopers from referencing Jesus Christ in public prayers. The instruction to halt references to Christ was delivered by State Police Colonel W. Steven Flaherty to the chaplains at a meeting earlier this month.

“With one misguided action, the Kaine Administration has put the chaplains in an impossible position,” noted House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem). “When troopers take on the added responsibility of serving as chaplains, they reinforce their commitment to serve the public. To then require those troopers to disregard their own faith while serving violates their First Amendment rights and prevents them from serving effectively as chaplains. These men had little choice but to resign.”

Delegate Charles W. “Bill” Carrico, Sr. (R-Grayson), a former state trooper, has been leading an effort to get the Virginia State Police to reverse its decision. He is currently preparing legislation to overturn the action.

“Colonel Flaherty needs to abandon this attack on Christianity,” declared Delegate Carrico. “This decision wasn’t based on any complaints about the chaplains, because I’ve been told there haven’t been any. It aggravates me when public servants act unilaterally out of a supposed fear of getting a complaint, instead of actually having to deal with one. That ‘fear’ is being used by the Administration to justify a decision made in the name of political correctness. Instead, all they’ve achieved is another needless attack on faith, free religious expression, Christianity, and the First Amendment.”

Delegate Carrico, who has been contacted by many of his former colleagues in the Virginia State Police since the directive was issued, is now preparing a website and online petition to garner public support for the chaplains. The website, www.injesusnameipray.com, will be released this week. It includes details about the situation and an online petition calling on Governor Timothy M. Kaine to reverse the decision.

“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,” Delegate Griffith remarked. “In January, House Republicans will work to right this situation, and we believe we’ll get bipartisan support for our legislation. But because of the Administration, damage has already been done to these chaplains and to free religious expression.”

“Gov. Kaine is a man of faith and has dedicated his life to that service,” Gordon Hickey, a spokesman for the governor, said in response to the criticism.