Virginia State Police Chaplains

Virginia News Stand: April 30, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Close Of Business, April

It's almost like it's a holiday weekend — there's not much going on. Maybe it's a collective political sigh. After all, it's been an eventful week. So, today brings us more reflection on all of the good news on the cultural front as the media still can't get enough of it. Leading the News, again, is coverage of Governor Bob McDonnell's reversal of the Kaine administration's gag order on Virginia State Police chaplains not to pray according to their faith tradition. We're mentioned in both articles linked below.

News

*McDonnell reverses chaplain prayer policy (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

*McDonnell lifts ban on State Police troopers referring to Jesus in public prayers (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

VCU reaffirms nondiscrimination policy (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News

Hawaii Lawmakers OK Civil Unions, Send Bill to Gov (AP/FoxNews.com)

Lawsuits target AZ law amid calls for boycotts (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Denver school district bans work travel to Arizona (AP/GOPUSA.com)   

Congress sets Puerto Rico statehood effort in motion (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Crist's defection could be gift to Democrats (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Feds open criminal probe of Goldman (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Palin wades into Minn. governor's race (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Okla. lawmakers want tougher immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Barack Obama, America's Selective Salary Policeman (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Strikingly Unpresidential (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)

First, He Was a Community Organizer (Frank Salvato/GOPUSA.com)

Will 'Independent Day' Work? (Matt Towery/GOPUSA.com)

Superheroes and Slashers (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)

Change The Channel

It’s been a rather tough week for our friends over at the ACLU. On the same day they were slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning public displays of religious symbols, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed a discriminatory policy that censored prayers of volunteer state police chaplains. One of the funniest and most outrageous statements in response to the governor's action came from Virginia ACLU director Kent Willis, who’s not exactly known for legal precision:

There is no reason for the governor to bow to pressure from groups that are encouraging the police to break the law by delivering sectarian prayers at government events. (Emphasis added.)

Seriously. Is it any wonder that no reasonable, thoughtful person anywhere pays a bit of attention to what the ACLU says? Getting legal advice from the ACLU is like getting medical advice from Dr. Kevorkian. It can't end well.

I'd try to explain what the law is to Mr. Willis, but it won’t do any good. But for those of you not blinded by ideology, needless to say, there is no law anywhere that says sectarian prayers at government events are illegal. Even in the ACLU's vision of our government where the Supreme Court makes law as opposed to the legislature, it's still not the case. But don’t take my word for it, here is what the Eleventh Circuit Court in Pelphrey v. Cobb (2008) said in its analysis of this issue:

The taxpayers (ACLU) argue that Marsh (U.S. Supreme Court precedent in this area) permits only "nonsectarian" prayers for commission (government) meetings, but their reading is contrary to the command of Marsh that the courts are not to evaluate the content of the prayers absent evidence of exploitation.  …The court never held that the prayers in Marsh were constitutional because they were "nonsectarian."

Oh, and about that Fourth Circuit case (Turner v. Fredericksburg) that the ACLU alleges requires non-sectarian prayers. Here is what the decision actually says:

We need not decide whether the Establishment Clause compelled the Council to adopt their legislative prayer policy because the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer.

In Turner, while the Court upheld Fredericksburg's discriminatory censorship policy, it clearly stated that the constitution does not compel the policy. Again, in Pelphrey, the Eleventh Circuit says:

Although it upheld the policy of the (Fredericksburg City) Council, the Fourth Circuit expressly declined to hold that Marsh required a policy of nondenominational prayers. (For interested parties I encourage you to read Pelphrey for yourself. In it the court rejects every typical ACLU argument.)

So what can we learn from all this? Well, one thing we already know, the ACLU is wrong almost all the time. They live under the creed of "If you say something enough, loud enough, people will start believing it." Luckily, the only people who seem to believe them are in the MSM and some confused elected officials.

More importantly, we can learn that it really is ok to still "exercise" our faith in the public square, even if you are a government agent (ACLU words). This week’s actions by the Supreme Court and Governor McDonnell verify that.

And finally, to those who are offended by the name "Jesus," I say to you what you say to me when you shove your smut in my face in the public square. Change the channel.

Big Week For Religious Liberty! (Or, Kaine And Stevens Cut From The Same Cloth)

Just two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision to uphold the display of a Cross on a World War I Mojave Desert memorial on what had been public property (once a national park, the land now is owned privately, yet a lower court ruled the Cross still could not be displayed.) In its majority opinion, the court stated:

The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.

The timing of the decision couldn't have been more fitting — the same day, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prayer policy that prohibited Virginia State Police chaplains from praying at public events according to their faith.

Religious liberty 2, ACLU 0!

This recent Supreme Court case, Salazar v. Buono, reversed the decision from a California lower court that ordered the removal of a Cross placed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the Mojave National Preserve in 1934 as a memorial to World War I soldiers (see California Catholic Daily). The circumstances surrounding the case, however, are far from simple.

The disagreement began in 1999 when a retired National Park Service employee sued saying that the Cross on public property constituted an unconstitutional establishment of religion. A federal court agreed and ordered that the Cross be removed. The decision was appealed and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court (the nation's most left-wing court) upheld lower court's decision. However, in 2003, before the Cross could be removed, Congress intervened and transferred the land in question to a private owner in an effort to side step the controversy.

Once again the lower courts and 9th Circuit weighed in and stated that Congress' maneuver was objectionable and did not solve the problem. In the meantime, plywood was used to cover the cross to prevent "any further harm." The U.S. Supreme Court then granted cert in the case to put the confusion to rest.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and sent the case back to the lower court to be reassessed "in light of a policy of accommodation." The logical assumption is that the display of the Cross will now be allowed. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the majority, but additionally argued that the retired park employee did not have standing to sue since the property had been transferred to a private owner. In addition, while the court did not specifically rule on the display of a Cross on public property, it certainly hinted that it would find such a display acceptable in some circumstances.

However, the written dissent truly was tragic. Justice John Paul Stevens, soon to retire,  wrote that the Cross was an improper and intolerable government endorsement of a specific faith. Similar to Kaine's discriminatory chaplain prayer policy, this opinion is yet another example of growing anti-Christian sentiment (see Huffington Post for anti-Catholic hysterics). Simply the fact that four Supreme Court justices could buy into this "logic" of censorship is proof that we must do more to protect our freedom of conscience. The Family Foundation will continue to keep a pulse on this issue and work on efforts to further protect religious liberty.

Winning Matters Event August 4 Features Jonathan Falwell, Bishop Harry Jackson

The Family Foundation and Pastors For Family Values will join the Alliance Defense Fund Tuesday, August 4, to produce an outstanding event for pastors and church leaders. Even if you are a pastor who has already attended a Winning Matters 2009 briefing, or plan to attend one, we promise this is one you will regret not attending. This special pastors briefing will take place at the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In the morning, ADF will educate pastors on their legal rights and discuss their willingness to defend those rights — ADF is one of the nation's premier legal advocates for religious liberty rights.

In the afternoon, two outstanding speakers will address attendees: Pastor Jonathan Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church, who opened the House of Representatives today with prayer (see video below), and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church (see video here). These two prominent leaders will encourage and motivate you.

Pastors also will learn about opportunities to partner with us in Winning Matters 2009 — an effort to assist Virginia churches in registering their congregations to vote, educating people of faith on important public policy issues, and encouraging them to vote in Virginia's statewide elections on November 3rd, an election that will send a message one way or another to the entire country. If you are not a pastor, please forward this link with your own personal message encouraging your church leaders to attend.

Although Pastors For Family Values is a year round association dedicated to much more than "political" involvement, we believe that appropriate occasions call us to take a more active role in making sure our voices are heard about our stance on traditional and Biblical values. This event will be informative and timely, with many resources for pastors to use in their efforts to encourage and equip their communities and churches to champion traditional values.

A Special Presentation for Pastors

Tuesday, August 4

Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center

2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway

9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Speakers: Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church

Pastor Jonathan Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church

This event, including lunch, is free to pastors. To RSVP, or for more information, call 804-343-0010 or e-mail info@tffaction.org.

Pastor Jonathan Falwell, seemingly an unlikely choice, opens today's session of the U.S. House of Representatives with prayer "in Jesus' name," something Virginia state police chaplains are not allowed to do. 

Prayer Rally Tomorrow For State Police Chaplains

By now most Virginians are familiar with the decision of Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty, a political appointee of Governor Tim Kaine, to order state police chaplains to cease praying "in Christ's name." Six state police chaplains resigned their duties as chaplains over the decision (see our commentaries, here). In the beginning of October, The Family Foundation participated in a capital press conference with several pastors from around Virginia in support of the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains and to urge Governor Kaine to reverse an order telling the chaplains they can't pray "in Jesus' name."

You were faithful when we asked you to contact Governor Kaine and state police Superintendent Flaherty and urge them to reverse the chaplain prayer policy!

Now, we are asking you to consider joining other Virginians for a "Pray in Jesus Name" prayer rally, on Saturday, November 1, at the Capitol Square Bell Tower, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (900 Bank Street) in downtown Richmond. This free, non-partisan rally will include pastors, policymakers, political, civic, and church leaders, a praise band, a gospel choir, and a time of prayer for the chaplains, our nation and our government. Please arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. so the event can begin promptly. 

You will hear the following individuals share their hearts and prayers at this event:

    » Mat Staver, Dean, Liberty University School of Law     » Dr. Rick Scarborough, Vision America     » Pastor Victor Torres, New Life International Outreach     » Bishop Darryl Husband, Mt. Olivett Church     » Delegate Charles W. "Bill" Carrico (R-5, Independence)     » Dr. Jeff Ginn, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia      » Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, "Chaps"

For more information about this event, click here, at the Pray In Jesus Name Web site.

A Year Of Truth

A year after anything, it is easy to look back and wonder — in a head dizzying funnel cloud of amazement — where the time went. Easier still when you're not simply reminiscing, but have something of substance to look back upon. Where did the time go?

It has been a year since this online broadsheet tacked itself onto the world's virtual public square sideboard, rousing the restful and focusing the restless like a town crier or, we'd like to think, like the Virginia Patriot Jack Jouett, who's heroic 40-mile ride saved the lives of Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry and Thomas Nelson, Jr., in a ride more important, but not as famous, than Paul Revere's.

Last year on this day we welcomed people to the truth (see first post here), promising to bring not the smack talk of many political blogs (God Bless'em, there are some good ones out there), but rather an intelligent discussion of issues, with some horse race and inside baseball politics when our time and interest allowed, and when our sources were talking. We also pledged to never back down on the truth, no matter how some may perceive it, because the truth is permanent and enduring, while political gain is fleeting. We're not naive, either. We know the field on which we play, and so we mix in our own brand of snark and ridicule to those who so richly deserve it. After all, the truth can be expressed not just through fact and explanation, or through reasoned argument, but by more vernacular means. Our first sentence recognized the prominence of this new medium.

We also have had a full year of reporting events, from our Capitol Square Diary of General Assembly machinations, to U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Virginia cases, to live and one-on-one Interviews with state and national figures, to Virginia State Police Chaplains who were ordered to cease praying in Jesus' name. We also have posted on the meaning of various holidays, patriotic television, pop culture and the media, about befriending legislators with whom we don't always agree; and created, among other things,  interactivity with an Action Center, reader Polls and video posts. It's been a full year, almost entirely fun, the little exasperation caused only from the wealth of topics and an already hectic schedule. Maintaining this blog is no one's full-time job, though it can seem like it. Three quick stats: 433 posts (1.7 posts per working day) and 1,073 comments.

We've also openly professed our lack of expertise in most things technological. Our contributors do know how to write superbly, though, and that's the essence of this anyway. The Virginia Gazette didn't look so hot in the 1700s, either. Slowly, we've added gadgets and gizmos, learning the mechanics as we go along, and that, too, has been fun. We're not the shiniest car on the block, but our motor hums ferociously. In keeping with the colonial/Captain Jouett theme it's better said that we don't have the prettiest horse in the stable, but he sure gallops a might! The blog is still pretty streamlined, as when we started, but it has grown into a vital portal of information on public policy in Virginia and on cultural and values issues at large.

Where has the time gone? Wherever it has, so too, has the truth. While we and several other worthwhile bloggers, grassroots organizations and alternative media sources continue to promulgate it in the on-going battle of ideas, not as much can be said for the body politic or the Mainstream Media. Whether it's the General Assembly's refusal to honestly deal with budget transparency or a handful of senators deviously plotting to restore taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood when it was effectively cut out of the budget, or a governor who disingenuously contrived reasons to cut abstinence education funding while misleading the legislature on the state's revenue for the purpose of creating new government intrusions into functions where it has no business; or national candidates and radical political organizations who, between them, have, and are currently spending, more than a billion dollars to create a "messianic" image of one candidate and distastefully distort the reputations of their opponents; the truth, sadly, has gone wanting in so many ways.

Still, there is optimism. Thousands read this blog, making us one of the most read political blogs in Virginia. Hundreds of others quote us. One year ago, we weren't sure what direction this blog would go, only that each day would be an exciting challenge to discern  which important topics needed to be discussed and how best to get that point across, and deal with the constant change that is politics and policy through technology and new methods of communication.

We may adapt a little here and there to meet those challenges, just as Captain Jouett doubtlessly adapted his ride for the dangers of his mission. More than two centuries later, through a much different manner, we carry on his ride against every bit as determined a force — a ride for truth and just cause that shielded him and Virginia's founders from the trials and dangers of their day. This first year has been a great ride. We hope you continue along with us for the entire journey.