PLEASE ADD YOUR “AMEN” TO THE PETITION BELOW!
PLEASE SIGN PETITION FAR BELOW ~ TO ALL NINE MEMBERS OF CHESAPEAKE VIRGINIA CITY COUNCIL TO OVERRIDE CITY ATTORNEY RON HALLMAN’S CURRENT BAN ON THE WORDS “JESUS” OR “CHRIST” OR “SAVIOR” IN PRAYER BEFORE COUNCIL MEETINGS
Chesapeake Virginia bans Jesus Christ from prayers
City Attorney Ron Hallman of Chesapeake Virginia has modified the city prayer policy in response to demands by atheists to ban Jesus Christ from prayers offered by visiting pastors before city council meetings~ apparently without any vote from the city council.
On 19 Oct 09 the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation declared victory over Jesus Christ and the City of Chesapeake~ stating the city had granted their request to ban “sectarian” words like Jesus~ Christ~ or Savior as illegal speech~ which may no longer be uttered during public prayers.
Mr. Hallman admits re-writing the new prayer policy to mollify atheist complainers from Wisconsin~ without any vote from the Chesapeake Virginia City Council~ and apparently against the wishes of Mayor Alan Krasnoff~ with whom I just spoke on the phone~ who said he would support freedom to pray in Jesus’ name. “I would never tell people they can’t pray from their heart~” the mayor said~ sounding surprised by Mr. Hallman’s latest draft of an apparently anti-Jesus policy.
The new policy not only bans references to Jesus Christ~ it also instructs pastors to pray to the false and neutered god of a new “civil religion.” The new policy directly requires pastors invocations “should be non-sectarian with elements of the American civil religion” and pastors should “refrain from making references that are specific to any particular religion~ denomination or sect or that promote particular religious figures~ deities~ images or symbols.” I spoke with Mr. Hallman on the phone~ who admitted writing the policy without city council vote (stating he made them aware)~ and defended how references to Jesus should be banned~ and elements of “civil religion” should be required in prayer speech. Pastors violating the restrictions would presumably not be allowed to participate in the future.
Mr. Hallman said he believed that a case from Chesterfield required non-sectarian prayers~ but seemed unaware of a more recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Turner v. Fredericksburg) which actually gave cities three options: 1) allow non-sectarian prayers~ 2) allow diverse prayers from many traditions~ or 3) appoint a chaplain to pray however he or she wishes. Writing for the court~ former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor legislated from the bench to allow the unpopular anti-Jesus option 1~ but also left the door open allowing cities to choose more popular pro-liberty options 2 or 3:
“We need not decide whether the Establishment Clause compelled the [Fredericksburg] Council to adopt their [non-sectarian] legislative prayer policy~ because the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer. In Marsh~ the legislature employed a single chaplain and printed the prayers he offered in prayerbooks at public expense. By contrast~ the legislature in Simpson allowed a diverse group of church leaders from around the community to give prayers at open meetings. Simpson~ 404 F.3d at 279. Both varieties of legislative prayer were found constitutional~” O’Connor ruled in 2008.
In other words~ the Chesapeake City Council had three options~ but Mr. Hallman’s current draft mandates option 1 (non-sectarian prayers)~ rather than allowing Chesapeake councilors to vote for option 2 (diverse prayers with liberty) or option 3 (chaplain with liberty). In his phone conversation with me~ Mr. Hallman agreed that all three options were legally available~ but defended the anti-Jesus version requiring non-sectarian prayers only~ and banning references to religious figures.
But Mr. Hallman also agreed~ the city council could easily over-ride his anti-Jesus ban~ if they were persuaded by public outry or petitions from those desiring freedom to pray “in Jesus name.”
Please sign our petition far below ~ asking the Chesapeake City Council to reverse Mr. Hallman’s draft policy~ and allow Jesus prayers among others~ encouraging the city council that 76% to 94% of polled voters will stand with them if they allow freedom to pray according to conscience~ and that courts will protect them if they allow rotating prayer diversity (including Jesus)~ but vote against them if they allow Mr. Hallman’s current draft policy ban on Jesus prayers to stand.
TAKE ACTION FIVE WAYS:
Individual Contact Information
Corroborating Proof Articles:
A PRAYER TO ALMIGHTY GOD~
A PETITION TO MAYOR OF CHESAPEAKE~ VIRGINIA ALAN KRASNOFF~
and COUNCIL MEMBERS TRIQUET~ RITTER~ COLLINS~ HAYES~ PARKER~ WARD~ WEST~ AND WILLIS:
Dear Mayor and Councilmembers:
We the undersigned~ respectfully petition you to defend religious freedom by allowing visiting pastors
of all diverse faiths and denominations~ to pray aloud publicly according to the dictates of their own conscience~
at or before city council meetings~ even if they dare to pray aloud publicly “in Jesus name” or invoke their own specific deity.
Please do not cave-in to atheist intimidation by the enemies of religious liberty~ or your own ill-informed legal advisors.
Please conform your decision to First Amendment precedent which allows Jesus prayers among other rotating diverse prayers~
as already decided in the 7th Circuit (Hinrichs v. Bosma) and 11th Circuit (Pelphrey v. Cobb County)
and by the Supreme Court of the United States in two decisions: Marsh v. Chambers and especially Lee v. Weisman.
Even the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Turner v. Fredericksburg) allows Virginia cities to choose among three options~ whether
1) non-sectarian~ 2) rotating diversity including Jesus~ or 3) appoint a chaplain~ so we request you choose 2 or 3~ not 1.
Jesus is not an illegal word~ the Bible is not a banned book~ and prayer speech is not a crime.
Please simply adopt a policy similar to Tulsa City Council~ and declare the prayers are private speech~ not government speech~
or allow the prayers to be said aloud during optionally attended time~ just before the first government business is gaveled to order.
Please allow pro-bono Christian lawyers~ from the Alliance Defense Fund or others~ to defend your pro-Jesus prayer policy in court.
We pray to God you will stand with us by taking a courageous stand for liberty~ in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Add your “Amen” by signing below~ and WE WILL POST YOUR COMMENTS to the
Mayor and Councilmembers of Chesapeake~ Virginia immediately.