Virginia’s new policy on prayer policy

By David Waters The governor of the commonwealth of Virginia has decided, “in the interest of religious freedom,” to grant … Continued

By David Waters

The governor of the commonwealth of Virginia has decided, “in the interest of religious freedom,” to grant state chaplains the freedom to pray in the name of Jesus at public events.

“I just didn’t think it was right, the change that was made a couple years ago, to have an official state policy to tell chaplains of any faith how to pray, whether Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Christian,” Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters Thursday.

If you reverse an official state policy on prayer with another state policy on prayer, it’s still a state policy on prayer, right?

The conservative Christian Family Foundation of Virginia doesn’t seem to mind, as long as it’s the right policy.

“We are obviously thrilled that Governor McDonnell has fulfilled his campaign promise to restore the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said. “His action reverses the discriminatory policy of the previous administration and ensures that chaplains can remain true to their faith at public events.”

Oddly enough, the ACLU of Virginia agrees with the Family Foundation, at least on the need for the state of Virginia to have the right policy on prayer.

“The (previous) policy enacted by the state police is consistent with federal court rulings, and it serves the important purpose of preventing state police chaplains from violating the First Amendment,” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis said.

Virginia’s Jewish Federation communities liked the previous policy better.

“(McDonnell’s policy) leads us toward unnecessary religious clashes, demeans our Commonwealth’s Jeffersonian principles and creates an unwelcoming environment for the Commonwealth’s Jewish citizens and other religious minorities,” six representatives of the groups wrote in a letter to the governor. “A final concern is the likelihood that revisiting this guidance would ultimately lead to litigation costly to our Commonwealth.”

This government prayer policy business can get complicated and costly.

The Virginia State Police created a chaplaincy program in the Year of Our Lord 1979 to minister to department employees and grieving families and speak at graduations, funerals and other ceremonies. Some of those government-affiliated volunteer chaplains were Christians, many of whom believe the only valid prayer is a prayer made “in the name of Jesus” — as instructed by the New Testament.

Ephesians 5:20: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

In 2008, state police Supt. W. Steven Flaherty, in the interest of the religious freedom of non-Christians, and concerned about legal challenges, directed the agency’s 17 chaplains to begin delivering neutral or nondenominational prayers at public functions.

“The department recognizes the importance of a state government agency to be inclusive and respectful of the varied ethnicities, cultures and beliefs of our employees, their families and citizens at large,” Flaherty said in a statement,

A government prayer policy should be inclusive and respectful of all beliefs.

Six of the chaplains resigned, saying Flaherty’s directive infringed on their religious freedom to pray in the name of Jesus. “There’s a fine line — but it’s a hard line — between an individual’s right to pray versus what is considered state-sponsored speech,” chaplain Rex Carter said.

A government prayer policy should be inclusive and respectful of individual beliefs.

When Flaherty issued his order, he cited a 2008 federal appeals court ruling that upheld the city of Fredericksburg’s policy requiring that opening prayers at city council meetings be nonsectarian — a policy that resulted from a legal challenge to sectarian prayers at the meetings.

“This is a victory for religious freedom,” Kent Willis, executive director of ACLU of Virginia, said of the Fredericksburg ruling. “The Supreme Court has long held that government officials are allowed to open legislative gatherings with a prayer, but that such prayers must in no way indicate a preference for one religion over others.”

And so it goes.

One government official grants us the freedom to utter sectarian prayers at public events and someone challenges that in court. Another government official grants us the freedom not to hear sectarian prayers at public events and someone challenges that in court.

Maybe the best government policy on prayer is NOT to have a prayer policy.

Or to quote the late Justice Hugo Black:

“It is neither sacrilegious nor anti-religious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance.”

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  • chadborman

    Bravo. It’s great that we finally have a true Christian in the Governor’s mansion. I’m so sick in tired of hearing about this so-called separation of church and state. Sorry heathens, it doesn’t exist and the Supreme Court agrees. If the Jews, Hinuds, Muslims don’t like it, please feel free to leave the state (or the country for that matter). I hope that this is only a first step in placing Christianity as the only religion that matters. Hopefully, we can reintroduce prayer in all public schools and make it mandatory. And yes, these should only include Christian prayers. Kids not willing to pray should be expelled. Our day is coming.

  • lamaryates

    Any faith group worth its salt should neither need nor want any government support or recognition.The genius of the US system is that it takes govt out of the religion business. This has been great for faith groups — we are the most faith-oriented of all wealthy nations.Those faith group who want privileges from govt should look at the established religions of Europe.

  • luv2bikva

    Chadborman is a jackass. This isn’t JUST a Christian country and is not founded on JUST Christian values (most of which I personally find offensive, but that is an entirely different argument). When I am at a Christian religious event that has an invocation or benediction, I expect to hear, “in Jesus’s name we pray.” If I’m at a Jewish event, I don’t. But if I’m at a public, secular event, I shouldn’t have to hear any religious invocation or benediction praising a particular diety. In that case, Virginia’s governor and attorney general are reactionary.So, Mr. Chadborman, this is MY country, too, and I will not leave and will fight you and anyone else for the right to pray in my own way without government intervention.

  • onthejourney

    A prayer to reflect seems very reasonable but to open the offering solely to solicit Jesus sets us up for larger problems. Be careful how one defines the devine.

  • solsticebelle

    Why are you so-called “Christians” so determine to shove your belief system down everybody’s throats?Didn’t the Jesus you supposedly believe in teach that praying should be done in private?You are a bunch of hateful, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou hypocrites.

  • gratianus

    Chadborman makes it abundantly clear why the founding fathers discouraged state support of any religion. If he’s so keen on purging anyone who objects to the United States being a multi-cultural society and invites the rest of us to leave America, can we take with us the gifts we’ve given this country. Oh, how about polio vaccine, how about Einstein’s insights into physics. Can we ask Mr. Chadborn to stop humming Neil Diamond songs, or watching Kirk Douglas, Robert Downey Jr, or Mel Brooks or well, you get the idea.

  • Freethinker2

    I’m getting sick and tired of third parties trying to advance their own superstitious, er, religious agenda (in violation of the constitution) by claiming to have standing to complain about chaplains’ religious. One of the many galling things about this cliched slogan is that it perpetuates the evangelical mindset set religious expression is its own absolute, unconstrained by the establishment clause. Of course, they have a disingenuous and simplistic slogan ready in retort to that: “nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about ‘separation of church and state.’”

  • rbdave

    Some conservatives say America should “return” to the laws of God. We needn’t speculate about what such a nation would look like. There are currently three governments on earth whose laws are based on the laws of the God of Abraham and Moses. They are Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.On the other hand, Jesus made quite clear his views on the separation of church and state. In fact, his last words on this subject were “My kingdom is not of this earth.”

  • BigTrees

    It is all about the right-wing hypocrisy, isn’t it. And the money. Can’t forget the money. If a religion doesn’t make money then its time to look for another scam.Then there is that control scheme involved. Telling people how to live is how Billy Graham and Pat Robertson get their jollies. And money. Don’t ever forget the money.Can’t have a religion with out the meek, mindless masses with nothing left and no hope to ever get out of their living hell. Add in a handful of hypocrites to take what little they have left, tell a few lies, buy some slick $1,000 suits and you got yourself a real old fashioned right-wing fundamentalist religion. Preach some hate, pass the plate and everyone is happy.

  • edallan

    There are many good reasons why Thomas Jefferson, a well known founding father who did know something about Constitutional law, reassured the Baptists that there would be a wall of separation between church and state that would keep people like Gov. McDonnell and John Roberts from making their theologies official dogma. As one of the first executive orders, George Washington, also a fairly well known and reasonably popular Virginian, declared that happily the government of the United States would give bigotry no sanction, and called this a liberal policy that others should emulate. George Mason, another Founder, had pretty strong feelings that Governor McDonnell, Atty General Cuccinelli, and their ilk spit on.Of course, unlike the Fundamentalist Christianists, the Founding Fathers were well aware that various of the colonies were founded to allow freedom of worship — and that almost as soon as the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts Bay, they started to execute Quakers who refused to be exiled or to recant. Which is among the reasons that they made the very conscious decision that not only would there never be any religious test for holding office, but went further to state unambiguously that there would be no form of state religion.Oh, and another reminder. Until he got bad publicity, Franklin Graham pulled in $1.2 million for himself personally from the gullible for his work on Samantha’s Purse and for being Billy Graham’s son. He’s decided to stop taking money for being Billy Graham’s son, so he only gets $400,000+ a year.

  • drzimmern1

    The war against the Christian religion has at last seen at least one tiny victory for the Christians, and our family is overjoyed. Is this because we are very religious? No, its because we have become very nervous watching the string of lawsuits by atheists and the ACLU to destroy the Christian religion so they can insert another. Thank you, governor.

  • jp1943

    It is 2010! What a bunch of fakes and hypocrites. I love to watch people at public events pretending to pray as they try to appear pious and sincere. $1.19 and a prayer will get you a cup of coffee.

  • ayazdani1

    Hey Silly people,

  • SavingGrace

    If a person doesn’t believe in God and isn’t part of any religious group, then how can they even be affected by others who pray to the God they believe in? It’s like saying you don’t believe in Santa Claus, then filing a discrimination complaint when there’s nothing under the Christmas tree, isn’t it?

  • revbookburn

    McDonnell has long been an honorary member of the Taliban. In a democracy and diverse nation, theocrats have no business turning their cults into public policy and exhibitions. They can worship any cartoon character of their choice, but not impose it.

  • Catken1

    “No, its because we have become very nervous watching the string of lawsuits by atheists and the ACLU to destroy the Christian religion so they can insert another.”Really? The Christian religion will be “destroyed” if government isn’t allowed to support and promote it – discriminating against all others – with impunity, and with the taxpayer dollars of non-Christians? Some pitiful religion you have there, if you need government-granted privilege to survive.

  • pinetree2

    Christianity is the most blood thirsty, power seeking religion in all of human history. It is also an entirely false religion. High time for a law suit so those phonies have to prove their claims. You want to push your stuff down everyone’s throat then you deserve to be told. Sorry but they made it a matter of public question. It is an utterly false religion and they have no defense of liberty and freedom because they offer none.

  • barferio

    Remember that McDonnell is one of Pat Robertson’s disciples, he has been indoctrinated at Patso’s Regent University.This is just the beginning. First he casts off the atheists and the non-Christian believersSoon he moves to implement Patso’s version of Christianity, and will it include you!Yeah, that’s right. The so-called moderate Christian who truly does believe in our constitution, do you really think Patso’s dominionist utopia is going to allow you to pray and worship as you wish?

  • jprfrog

    @jaxas70:How would you enforce it? Well, the OT recommends stoning for certain offenses. Then Jesus was convicted of blasphemy and we know what happened to him. The Puritans were fond of the stocks, etc. Seriously…as Jefferson pointed out in his correspondence with Madison, one of the worst effects of state-sponsored religion is that it tends to foster hypocricy (something we do quite well even with separation, thank you). What kind of fool mistakes lip-service for sincerity? A fundamentalist fool who needs constant re-assurance that his faith is the RIGHT one. Who was who said that “By their fruits ye shall know them?”? And preached that prayer should be private (cf. Matthew 5:6)?Oh it was that liberal socialist Jew with the Hippie beard and sandals. I think his name was Jesus (Joshua, really). So-called and self-proclaimed Christians ought to really read more of their Book than Leviticus and Revelation.

  • gll1955

    To Chadborman,I find your comments troubling. I’m Jewish and my folks came to VA/NC in the 1880′s. I go to synagogue and pray on Shabbat (the Sabbath).I have no reason to leave my country because of my faith, as you suggest.I love the Lord, my God, and pray each day. So do my adult children.You really need help in dealing with your anger toward Jews and Muslims. I hope your pastor can help you.

  • hohandy

    “The Virginia State Police created a chaplaincy program in the Year of Our Lord 1979 to minister to department employees and grieving families and speak at graduations, funerals and other ceremonies”Because none of these God-fearing State policeman who specifically need prayers that say Jee-zus in them have any personal clergy of their own, and none exist in the communities in which they live and work, the state has to provide them for them? I think that there’s your problem right there – the state has absolutely no business being in the religion business.

  • citizen4truth1

    You get exactly what you vote for. Like it is a mystery that McDonnell supports prayer at state functions and caters to the Sons of the Confederacy? No. But, there is no conspiracy here. McD along with AG Cuccinelli are pandering to their far right-wing base because both are ambitions politicians. They are working to tweak VA back to a bright red state. Christianity scores points with central command. This behavior has become important to McD because the Republican party now has a litmus test for the uber conservative agenda, of which Jesus is part of. Yes, this group would like to merge church and state. That’s no mystery.

  • tboyer33

    I agree with CHADBORMAN. The First Amendment really means freedom to be an Evangelical Christian. If there’s one thing the founding fathers were excited about, it was bringing back state religion, the auto-da-fe, the whole bit. Great to see a brave Christian leader starting this process in Virginia of all places. Compulsory Christian prayer was one of Jefferson’s lifetime dreams!

  • cjpotter19

    “Bravo. It’s great that we finally have a true Christian in the Governor’s mansion. I’m so sick in tired of hearing about this so-called separation of church and state. Sorry heathens, it doesn’t exist and the Supreme Court agrees. If the Jews, Hinuds, Muslims don’t like it, please feel free to leave the state (or the country for that matter). I hope that this is only a first step in placing Christianity as the only religion that matters. Hopefully, we can reintroduce prayer in all public schools and make it mandatory. And yes, these should only include Christian prayers. Kids not willing to pray should be expelled. Our day is coming.Posted by: chadborman | April 30, 2010 5:14 PM “Now this is a fantastic example of Poe’s Law in action. For those of you who don’t know, Poe’s Law states that it is impossible to distinguish actual religious fundamentalism from satire of religious fundamentalism over the internet. Is this poster serious? are they kidding? There’s no way to know.

  • carlaclaws

    The results returned by a Google search for chadborman suggest that he is “funnin’ with us.”

  • US-conscience

    The original intent of the ‘Seperation of Church and State’ doctrine was NOT to keep the church out of state matters but conversly – it was intended to keep the State out of church matters. This decision by Va. is actually in accord with the original intent of the doctrine of ‘Seperation of church and state’.

  • jprfrog

    This chadborman 2 days ago:I think the White House is Palin’s for the taking. She’ll win every state. How could someone who served as mayor of Wasilla and served about a half of a term as governor of one of the smallest states in the US not be qualified to hold the highest office in the land? She’s just like you and me and that’s all we should care about. The U.S. public really does want to return to the days of George W Bush when we had dozens of people who running the government who hated government and tried to do everything they could to make sure it stopped functioning. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of competent people running for office.Posted by: chadborman | April 29, 2010 7:33 PM | I think this clinches it: it is a put-on. And a masterful one at that…I was taken in too. I’ve often thought about doing something similar on various subjects (deporting 12 million undocumented aliens, is my flavor of the month) but I was always afraid that some nutjob would think I meant it. Chad has bigger stones than me, I guess. But alas, it doesn’t take much to get Spidey out of whatever hole he curls up in.

  • Nemo24601

    Yes, I had already spotted Chadborman as a likely troll. the comment about expelling kids from school was just too unlikely, since anyone that virulent would have sent his kids to private school.

  • barferio

    “The original intent of the ‘Seperation of Church and State’ doctrine was NOT to keep the church out of state matters but conversly – it was intended to keep the State out of church matters.”This is where you’re just fooling yourself. The church getting into state matters means the church is running state matters. This means the state is being run by the church using state powers to do so.Why can’t you religious types see this? How long before the church state is promoting religious ideas you don’t like?I’d ask you if you are capable of enough rational thought to see this, but obviously – you are not.

  • bdunn1

    I like my prayer covered in right-wing evangelical fervor. So much the better if you can safely handle poisonous snakes while praying.

  • kham1234

    I believe that the following comment from lamaryates is the best lecture for McDonnell and his cohorts: [however I do not think they are equipped with enough intelligence to understand it and the beautiful US Constitution]“Any faith group worth its salt should neither need nor want any government support or recognition.””The genius of the US system is that it takes govt out of the religion business. This has been great for faith groups — we are the most faith-oriented of all wealthy nations.””Those faith group who want privileges from govt should look at the established religions of Europe.”{Posted by: lamaryates | April 30, 2010 5:45 PM}

  • bryangalt1

    God, or whomever you believe in, help us all if this country continues down the slippery slope of government sanctioned religion. The comments from people in here stating that non-christians should move out of the country, be expelled from schools, etc. are proof positive of the need to keep state religions at bay. It is a guarantee that allowing these two to merge will lead to religious persecutions and executions, just like in muslim countries.

  • Sirius2

    So Mr. Chad Borman, do you propose the repeal of one of Mr. Jefferson’s proudest achievements, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom? I’m proud to be a Virginian, and offended by your bigotry.

  • mjcc1987

    They serve a narrow group but invoke in many of us a fake and presumptuous piety. Based on lies, half-truths, and innuendos, the christian taliban has promoted that which never was – that we were founded on protestant christianity – no different than the christian, jewish, or muslim religions. You see what religions can do to people when they control a population – look at the Middle East and Africa.

  • Nymous

    Non-sectarianism is very important. That’s why the previous policy was better. It’s not about minority outliers, it’s about the fractious majority. This goes on and after awhile you get people getting angry that it’s not a Baptist prayer, or that it’s not Methodist, or that some charismatic nut has gained too much influence over local government & has started his own mini-theocracy.It would help if American extremists could look in the cautionary tale they created by throwing Saddam out of power. Now, all these folks want to do is blow each other up over really stupid religious reasons.

  • LeftGuy

    Think about this for a moment…”A STATE POLICY on PRAYER”. What the hell is going on in Virginia? This sounds like Saudi Arabia !!! How can a government dictate a policy on private, or public prayer, in light of the US traditions of freedom? to say nothing of the Constitutional Bill of Rights? The best policy is NO POLICY. Leave prayers to the individual and the religious services. Keep all prayer out of all public events.Jesus will reward you if you do.

  • areyousaying

    Jesus, please protect us from your redneck, Huckabee, racist Virginia followers including its Governor protege of Pat Robertson. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

  • onemom

    Still proud to say I didn’t vote for McDonnell.

  • BlueTwo1

    That tears it. Churches are totally exempt from paying taxes so that the separation of church and state is absolute. Now religious adherents in the Commonwealth demand to inject Christianity into state ceremonies. Fine. In the name of Jesus, I demand churches pay taxes. It is God’s Will. Drill, baby, drill.

  • garethharris

    For over two hundred years now, religious people have been trying to erode the constitutional foundations of the separation of church and state in the US. Among these actions – replacing the US motto “E pluribus unum – from many, one” with “In God we trust.” And changing the pledge of allegiance I grew up with to a religious creed “under God.”As an atheist follower of Jesus’ teachings, I prefer other phrases:And Burns poem:

  • gvelanis

    What happens when these religious leaders start making assertions about Christ that other sects do not subscribe too. You know folks our currency does not say in Jesus we trust. Our Governor is on the edge of a very very slippery slope but I am sure that he and members of the 700 club will be more than happy to act as referees and experts in religious dogma and rule when someone has spoken improperly. Think twice before you wish for something governor, you may be very sorry you got your wish.

  • Davidd1

    I agree with many above who insist there be no “State policy on prayer.”

  • jaxas70

    Look. If this bunch had their way, prayer would be mandatory at all public events. I have never quite understood this compelling need on the part of fundamentalist Christians to burden everyone else with their beliefs. They will never be content as long as there are people out there who do not accept their particular message. And they are so obnoxious about it if they have to compel belief through government policy, they are perfectly willing to do that.Isn’t it ironic that these are the very same people who tell us they want government to just “leave us alone”?

  • kalacaw

    In thinking about Chadboreman’s comment, and as it has already been said here, I’m delighted to know that religion has no legal foundation as a dominant force in the United States. A quick source citation is Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli.The National Cathedral in Washington, DC is not supported by government funding on the very same basis. Despite the claim that Chadboreman champions in his impassioned diatribe, separation of church and state is the cornerstone of our foundation. He should be thankful for this, because it doesn’t sound to me that he’s leaning toward Deism, as did at least some of our founding Fathers. ;-) That reiterated, there seems to me to be no legal basis for dictating a religious person’s manner of public prayer. We do have a long tradition of Christian symbolism in the US, and that may bother the non theist or the person subscribing to a different religion, but one must remember that the basis of that faith is the belief that one person — out of love — died for all of us. I’m a Humanist at the core, but I can wrap my brain around such a lovely sentiment. In any event, I’m in no way inclined to want to suppress anybody who is acting toward the end of greater good, and out of love — and respect — for his or her neighbor.

  • Viewpoint2

    Justice Black seems to be the only one to get this right. There should not be state police chaplains. There should not be a state police prayer policy. Individuals should be free to practice whatever religion they choose. The thought of an official showing up wearing a uniform or using a government title and then praying as if it represents the views of the state police is simply undemocratic. Thomas Jefferson is probably turning in his grave.

  • CharlesADavidson1

    THANK GOD I LIVE IN DELAWARE! (pun thoroughly intended)I am a life long proud Unitarian humanist. As a member of a religious minority I was taught to respect other people’s belief. So for years when faced with a prayer of another faith I politely put my hands on my lap and sit quietly until it passes.But for pity’s sake all this yelling and screaming by a certain element of the christian majority insisting that they are being persecuted because people like me are simply asking for the same civility is just ridiculous. Then again you Virginians elected a guy who is arguably the most conservative governor in the United States who appear to be determined to move YOUR state to sit among those gloriously conservative and overtly christian states like Mississippi (the poorest, least healthy, least educated and least healthy state in the union), Alabama and Oklahoma. Good luck with that.

  • jaxas70

    ChadBorman, your day isn’t coming. It has come and gone. Recent surveys from PEW and other broadly respected research institutions have concluded that people across the West are moving away from religious belief altogether and seeking answers to the larger questions of life through other forms of spirituality–most often involving individual expressions of meditation and introspection.Part of this has to do with the fact that science and empirics have pretty much discredited organized religion and part of it has to do with the inner corruption of those institutions. Every major denomination has in recent years been tainted with moral and sexual scandals. Major religious leaders have been caught in compromising situations and consequently. people have begun to turn away from such institutions.Even recent popular novels involving the secretive activities of organizations like the Catholic OPUS DEI, have raised serious questions about the legitimacy of Jesus Christ as the Son of God or any other supernatural being.Your boast that “our day is coming” seems rather quaint given all that. And it reveals about you a sort of puerile childishness turning a serious search for truth into some sort of sporting event. Your silly boast sounds just like a defeated team mindlessly chanting: WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR!

  • jaxas70

    Alas, the Religious Right will never get it. Look. Even assuming you get every single policy your backward looking hearts ever dreamed of enacted by government, it simply won’t work. You cannot win hearts and minds through government edicts.I believe the recent law enacted in Arizona is instructive here. It seeks to force law enforcement authorities to undertake extraordinary measures against a specific type of individual they deem who may be an illegal alien. The law enforcement officials complained mightily about this bill before the Governor of Arizona signed it into law. And now, many of them are saying what most rational people already believe: It is an unenforceable law and may even be unConstitutional.The same will likely hod true of any enactment of a law directing a particular religious activity. What if people refuse to abide by the law? How will it be enforced? Aside from the legal challenge to its constitutionality which will surely follow.

  • potterdc1

    Um, don’t you guys think that “Chadborman” is writing rather tongue in cheek? I think his statement brilliantly highlights the importance of church/state separation. And if he isn’t…well, I still think his statement brilliantly highlights the importance of church/state separation.

  • mickle1

    Religious people are given tax exemptions to provide spaces where they can carry on their cult practices and their pest holes are tax exempt. If we now have to listen to a bunch of fantasy promoters at civil function, I want all of the taxes revoked.

  • SubRosa2

    When in doubt, it’s always good to see what Jesus Himself had to say on the issue: “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogue and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:5-6). THAT is Christian prayer.

  • muawiyah

    SOLSTICEBELLE ~ hypocrisy is one of those religious crimes addressed by Mohammad when he said “Kill the Hypocrites”.That’s a pretty broad license. However, knowing that 99.9999999% of hypocrisy is in the mind of the beholder, may I suggest to you that it is entirely improper of you to fly off the handle like that and condemn Christians so viciously for committing a crime that only you can imagine.BTW, please don’t shoot me if you convert to Islam, if you haven’t already.

  • spidermean2

    America was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims. And as Evangelical Christians, they do end their prayers with “IN JESUS NAME”.Thank you VERY MUCH Gov. Bob McDonnell for restoring the foundation from which America was built. If the Indians who lived with them and who also owned the land never contested the prayer which ended “in Jesus name”, what’s the right of the idiots who just arrived in America to contest it?The First Thanksgiving (As told by one of the Pilgrims William Bradford)The Drought and Fast of 1623 A great drought continued from the first week in May till about the middle ofJulu without any rain and with great heat for the most part, insomuch as the corn began to wither away though it was set with fish, the moisture thereof helped it much. At length it began to languish more, and some of the drier grounds were parched like withered hay, part of whereof was never recovered. Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indian’s admiration that lived amongst them. For all the morning and greatest part of the day it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without either wind or thunder or any violence and by degrees and in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive and quicken the corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers with interchange of fair warm weather as through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest to their no small comfort and rejoicing.For which mercy, in times convenient they also set apart a day for thanksgiving.”

  • muawiyah

    TBOYER33 ~ One of Jefferson’s dreams was to send federal funds to frontier Catholic missionary schools.Now, for the issue at hand ~ the “chaplains” in question aren’t simply at some sort of large, general, public meeting when they do this praying ~ rather, these are “memorial services”.Frankly, I’d expect something more than people just sitting around like a bunch of fundy Quakers waiting for the Spirit to move them to speak wouldn’t you?On the other hand, if you want to IMPOSE Quaker standards of worship and ceremony on a bunch of cops at a memorial service/meeting I’d suggest you people take up arms first lest you find out they don’t much care for you kind messing with them!

  • Impudicus

    Prayer is not “speech”Prayer is not simply speech. It is an act of recognition, worship of and request to a deity. It presupposes belief in a deity and also that this deity actually hears and acts upon prayers. There is nothing more absurd than so called “generic” or “general” prayers that are addressed to any deity or all deities in the hope that if all the deities are included the prayer will be granted. This is nothing else but polytheism. So the cleric intones “O God,(Allah, Yahweh, Father, Jesus, or any Deity who may hear this) please bless and protect America. If you can’t prevent Allah from aiding terorists than at lest make this more difficult. Yahweh we know you are the one, eternal God, so please forgive these idolators who are praying to someone else. Jesus, you know we are a Christian nation so you are bound to help us. Please don’t be offended if we recognize other gods. Prayer at secular events is inappropriate just like secular events at church services. Imagine advertisements and signs inside a church or a a rock concert in the middle of Mass. Prayer at secualr events should be recogniaed for what it is, “pious poppycock.” or a formal attempt to avoid hurting the feelings of a deity.

  • barferio

    “America was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims.”Obviously in the Philippines, they don’t give you a real understanding of American history in your public schools.Remember too, the immediate descendants of these mayflower pilgrims were hanging each other for being witches. Such is the inevitable story when religion runs the government.

  • Impudicus

    They thanked God for a “timely plague”The Piglrims thanked God for a “timely plague” that decimated the local Indians. The Pilgrims and Puritans were religious bigots who exiled Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson for heresy So much for their influence on the foundation of America.

  • spidermean2

    America was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims. And as Evangelical Christians, they do end their prayers with “IN JESUS NAME”.Thank you VERY MUCH Gov. Bob McDonnell for restoring the foundation from which America was built. If the Indians who lived with them and who also owned the land never contested the prayer which ended “in Jesus name”, what’s the right of the idiots who just arrived in America to contest it?The First Thanksgiving (As told by one of the Pilgrims William Bradford)The Drought and Fast of 1623 A great drought continued from the first week in May till about the middle ofJulu without any rain and with great heat for the most part, insomuch as the corn began to wither away though it was set with fish, the moisture thereof helped it much. At length it began to languish more, and some of the drier grounds were parched like withered hay, part of whereof was never recovered. Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indian’s admiration that lived amongst them. For all the morning and greatest part of the day it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without either wind or thunder or any violence and by degrees and in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive and quicken the corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers with interchange of fair warm weather as through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest to their no small comfort and rejoicing.For which mercy, in times convenient they also set apart a day for thanksgiving.”

  • spidermean2

    16 years later, the Pilgrims built a school which became what is known today as Harvard University.

  • kolars6

    I am a devout Christian and have been all my 57 years. (Just returned home from sponsoring a young teenager at Confirmation tonight.) But I believe in separation of church and state. When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, it virtually ruined Christianity. The same will be true the closer Christianity gets to the state in the United States. Many “Christians” in the U.S. are not Christians. They are devotees of a “civil religion” which worships money, power and the United States’ projection of its economic system and its military power around the world. These people despise and fear persons of other faiths and no faith, and people who are not white. These “Christians” worship idols, and not the God of Jesus Christ, who is characterized by a preferential option for the poor and marginalized, and in the words of Mary in the Magnificat, “pulls down the mighty from their thrones and sends the rich away empty.” America is for all people of all faiths, no faith and all ethnic groups and backgrounds, and public events must respect the rights of all and give no preference to Christianity. We Christians don’t need help from the state, and in fact are only faithful to Christianity when we can stand at a critical distance from the state, and speak truth to power. That’s why early Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire. Pray that it may be the same for us.

  • bob2davis

    There is no god. There never was a jesus christ. Neither has been or ever will be proven. Faith is for those who are incapable of reason. We must never let irrational people govern. McDonnell and Virginia both have a long history of bigotry and ignorance. Neither should be cited as models of first amendment rights. This is by no means the Virginia of Thomas Jefferson. And Harvard University became a renowned seat of learning after it separated itself from puritan philosophy. Don’t you people ever read or think?

  • kuchlich

    It’s just plain rude to ignore other people’s religious feelings; the opposite of the empathy religion is supposed to teach. Those who adamantly insist on Christian prayer at pubic events demonstrate that their version of “Christian love” is really reserved only for Christians – and (literally) to hell with everyone else.If, hypothetically, I were to continue a conversation or turn the pages of a newspaper during a “Christians only” prayer at a public event, I have no doubt that most of those participating in the prayer would find such behavior quite insensitive. The irony is obvious. Why should I respect your religious feelings while you ignore mine?

  • phal4875

    Someone who calls himself/herself “chadborman” has a true sense of humor. Even a person with the intelligence level of a Sarah Palin would not express those beliefs as real, so he (just assuming it is a male) must be kidding. I only hope that he hasn’t offended any “Hinuds” with his sense of humor. They must be a very small religious group, however. I could not even find them in “The Book of Superstitions and Magic,” where the other major religions are listed.