Governor Terry McAuliffe successfully vetoed two religious liberty bills, including one that would have protected the right of Virginia National Guard chaplains to not have their sermons censored. While the vote may have gone his way this time, his argumentation for the veto tracked with the an emerging attack from the secular left. In his veto statement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Military Chaplains do not, however, have the right to use official, mandatory events as a platform to disseminate their own religious views. To the contrary, Guard members required to attend such events have a right not to be subjected to sectarian proselytizing.”
We’re still trying to find out exactly at which “official, mandatory events” chaplains are allowed to give sermons in the first place. No one can point to a single example. But details have never been the Governor’s strong suit.
Regardless, in his statement, the Governor uses the dreaded “p” word. So mocked and derided by the secular left, the “p” word gets thrown out when they really, really want to scare everyone about religious people. After all, to those who don’t know the definition of the “p” word, it sounds like something from which we need inoculation.
The “p” word is of course, proselytize. Once uttered, people are expected to gasp in fear and run for the hills.
But what does proselytize actually mean?
According to Webster’s, it is defined as, “to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group.”
In some ways, that sounds a lot like, “free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion.” Those words, however, aren’t from Webster’s. They are from Jefferson…and the Statute for Religious Freedom.
Of course, McAuliffe’s disrespectful assumption is that military chaplains are going to try to convert everyone that they come across and if they get to give a sermon, well then, watch out. It’s not like they’d be sensitive to the crowd they are addressing, or be professional in their conduct, or act in a way that is befitting a military chaplain. No, no. They’d most certainly “proselytize.”
We don’t hold to the Governor’s fear. And, we respect everyone’s right to try to “proselytize” for their cause, religious or not. It’s called free speech.
Beyond this particular case, however, is the secular left’s visceral fear of someone being allowed to make an argument in favor of their faith. Well, let me clarify. It’s actually the left’s visceral fear of someone being allowed to make an argument in favor of the Christian faith. Or, you know, “profess and by argument maintain their opinion” in the matter of their faith. As in, try to persuade people.
The real fear should be when the government prohibits anyone from trying to persuade someone about anything, religious or not.