Chesapeake City Council

Virginia News Stand: October 23, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  The Substitute

Filling in for Admin today, so the comments will be brief! In today's news we have the White House beginning their tactical distancing from Creigh Deeds, that way the stories following November 3 are sure to say "Virginia Elections No Reflection on Obama." But the most fun news comes from yesterday's debate between candidates for Attorney General. Now, if Creigh Deeds is the Democrat candidate in this race that's baffled by simple questions, and Jody Wagner is the most clueless, then clearly Steven Shannon is the angriest candidate on the ticket. I mean, seriously, I know the job of AG is important, but Steve, smile once in a while. Everyone knows that you are running for the job of the Commonwealth's top prosecutor, even though the AG isn't the Commonwealth's top prosecutor, but lighten up. Yesterday Steve decided that Creigh couldn't be the only one to run a nasty campaign, so he played the race card. I guess the only question remaining: Is anyone listening anymore?

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Bigots 1, Chesapeake 0

We learned today that the Chesapeake City Council caved to the bullying tactics of the ACLU and the so-called "Freedom From Religion Foundation" and changed their prayer policy to censor "sectarian" prayers, or prayers in Jesus name. This is yet another disappointing case of overreacting to the threats of anti-religious bigots by an elected body that simply does not understand the law. According to the most recent federal appellate court that has reviewed all the case law in this area, neither the Supreme Court or any appellate court has mandated "non-sectarian" prayer at public meetings. It is another success case for the ACLU's strategy of misleading the public on what the courts actually say.

Religious liberty loses again.

Atheist-Agnostic Group Threatens Chesapeake City Council Over Prayer

Last week, we informed the public about several threats to religious liberty taking place around the nation. A group calling itself the Freedom From Religion Foundation is pursuing several lawsuits around the country to ban public signs of faith and religious heritage, including one to prohibit the words "In God We Trust" from being inscribed in the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. (See conservative writer Peter Heck, whose column we post in the News Stand occasionally, debate this organization's president, here.) Today, we learned that this organization is making threats in Virginia. The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reported earlier this week that this organization of self-proclaimed "atheists and agnostics" threatened the city of Chesapeake with legal action should it continue to open its city council meetings in prayer. As usual, it has misrepresented case law in making its threat — in particular, the Fourth Circuit Court's infamous Fredericksburg decision (see its long-winded news release).

When we heard about the case this morning, we immediately contacted our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund. ADF already is at work on a letter and model policy for the city council so that it will be able to fight back against the threatened lawsuit. We hope to have the letter and model policy to the city council and mayor today or tomorrow.

A few years ago, The Family Foundation partnered with ADF to send model prayer policies to every local government body in Virginia so that they would be aware of what the courts deem as appropriate prayers at government meetings. There are very specific guidelines for governing bodies to follow in their prayer policies — and none require so-called "non-sectarian" prayers as suggested by Freedom From Religion.

We will stay on top of this and keep you posted on this case. We will work to inform the Chesapeake City Council of its rights and fight this, and all threats, to religious liberty in the commonwealth.