Jesus guideline decried
July 16, 2010
Some lawmakers’ offices have received faxed petitions asking members to reverse what critics call a ban on “the forbidden name of ‘Jesus'” during prayers in the state House.
Earlier this week, House Speaker Joe Hackney named a committee of legislators to review the guidelines for prayer in the House chamber after a guest chaplain complained he was asked not to refer to Jesus.
The Rev. Ron Baity of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem said he declined to give a nonsectarian prayer at the opening of a House session in late May. He gave the prayer he intended to give, but was then told his services were no longer needed, Baity told media outlets.
Hackney’s office received a 180-page faxed petition Tuesday filled with signatures of people who say a prohibition on prayers “in Jesus name” is unconstitutional.
“Jesus is not an illegal word, the Bible is not a banned book and evangelistic speech is not a crime,” said the letter, signed by Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt of The Pray In Jesus Name Project, a Colorado-based group.
Hackney spokesman Bill Holmes said at least one other House member had also received the fax.
The eight-member bipartisan committee will review guidelines for prayers in the chamber.