Here's the news release we issued last week regarding the on-going state police "chaplain-gate" controversy. We'll post more on this shortly and over the next few days.
Family Foundation Urges Grassroots Action in Response to State Policy Prayer Policy
- Pro-family group reviewing legal and legislative remedies -
RICHMOND — The Family Foundation of Virginia today announced that it is mobilizing its members to urge Governor Tim Kaine (contact here) and State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty (contact here) to reverse a new policy that forbids chaplains from praying according to their conscience. The pro-family organization is also exploring the possibility of legislative and legal action should the policy remain in place.
"The birthplace of religious freedom in America, Virginia, should not become a graveyard for religious expression," said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation. "This policy decision by the state police is extremely concerning and we believe may be unconstitutional. We are working to seek a solution that protects the religious liberty and free speech rights of those involved."
The Family Foundation has notified its members and the members of its pastors outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, and urged them to contact Governor Kaine and Superintendent Flaherty. E-mail alerts to both groups went out over the past two days.
When informed of the prayer decision last week, The Family Foundation contacted Alliance Defense Fund, a nationally recognized law group that specializes in religious liberty cases. Representatives from ADF then contacted one of the troopers involved. They are reviewing the facts of the case to consider what action may be appropriate.
"A prayer at public events shouldn't be banned or censored just because a Christian or religious person delivers it. The First Amendment allows public officials to acknowledge our nation's religious heritage and to pray according to the dictates of their own consciences," said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson. "The practice of opening public meetings with uncensored prayer dates back to the First Congress. The Constitution clearly protects public officials and appointed chaplains who choose to invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work."
"There is no doubt that Virginians are very concerned that the precious right to religious liberty is being reduced on an almost daily basis," added Cobb. "We urge Governor Kaine and Superintendent Flaherty to reverse this policy decision immediately and restore the right of conscience of the troopers involved. Forbidding chaplains to pray to the God of their faith in the name of political correctness, as this policy does, violates everything this Commonwealth was founded upon."