Eight years ago, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police ordered the 17 troopers serving as voluntarily chaplains to discontinue citing Jesus Christ in prayers delivered at department-sanctioned public events.
It was superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty’s belief that the prayers should be nondenominational, and according to The Virginian-Pilot, then-Gov. Tim Kaine supported his directive as opposed to protecting the religious liberty of the chaplains.
In response, six of the chaplains resigned from their duties, including 13-year veteran Rex Carter.
“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,” he said at the time.
While the response from the chaplains was fairly congenial, it was not so for state Republicans, who directed their ire at Kaine.
“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,” said then-State House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith.
“Censoring what these chaplains can say is a violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of expression,” added State Sen. Charles Carrico Sr.
The good news for both the state’s Republicans and its Christian troopers was that the directive was rescinded two years later after Republican Bob McDonnell was elected governor.
“The governor does not believe the state should tell chaplains of any faith how to pray,” McDonnell’s director of communications told the Richmond Times-Dispatch at the time. “Religious officials of all faiths should be allowed to pray according to the dictates of their consciences.”
Gov. Kaine’s administration allowed a power-hungry superintendent to ban prayers to Jesus. Just imagine what might occur were current Democrat vice presidential nominee Kaine and his running mate, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, to win the November election.
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