Floor Vote Tomorrow On Bill To Ensure Chaplain Free Speech!

A bill protecting the free speech rights of Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force chaplains (SB 555) that to this point has been completely non-controversial — in in the Virginia Senate! — suddenly became so Friday when Democrats began to raise a ruckus in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. The committee still voted to report the bill to the floor of the House of Delegates, but on a mainly party line vote, with only one Democrat joining all committee Republicans in favor. Patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), SB 555 unanimously passed the Senate and a House sub-committee. But Friday, several members of the sub-committee who previously voted in favor of the bill urged its defeat and voted against it in full committee. The bill simply ensures that the religious content of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard or of the Virginia Defense Force can't be censored or restricted by any state government official or agency.

Even Democrats in the  Senate unanimously voted in favor of the provision because it essentially repeats federal policy. But there are members of the House of Delegates that are so hostile to religious liberty that even ensuring that chaplains can simply do their job is not worthy of protection. The bill will be debated on the House floor today and voted on tomorrow.

Please contact your delegate and urge him or her to vote for SB 555 on the House floor Tuesday!

In Jesus Name . . . NOT

Earlier this General Assembly session, the Senate Courts of Justice committee defeated legislation by Senator Steve Martin that would have protected the religious liberty and free speech rights of Virginia citizens asked to pray before government meetings. The bill, SB 1072, was a response to both the Fourth Circuit Court's Turner decision, and the state police's decision to censor prayers by its chaplains.  Opponents, such as the ACLU, lined up to ensure that our religious liberty and free speech rights were trampled. Once again opponents completely misrepresented the facts and misused the law — big surprise. 

On the side of religious liberty were the Alliance Defense Fund's senior counsel Mike Johnson and the Soliciter General of the Commonwealth Steve McCullough. Despite their clear and honest presentation of the facts, the committee killed the bill. 

Take a look for yourself at some of the testimony and questioning: