Thursday, October 2, 2008

A former Navy chaplain is calling for a prayer rally next month to protest Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine‘s decision not to rescind a request that state police chaplains offer only “nondenominational” prayers during department-sanctioned public events .

Gordon James Klingenschmitt last week sent a letter to Mr. Kaine protesting a request from state police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty that police chaplains offer only nondenominational prayers at events like trooper graduations and annual memorial services.

Six of the 17 chaplains on the force resigned their posts after the directive, which was based on a recent decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was issued.

Mr. Klingenschmitt, who gathered with other Christian leaders in Richmond to publicize their efforts against the policy Wednesday, asked Mr. Kaine to either schedule a rotating prayer policy among those practicing diverse religions or “appoint chaplains to pray as their own faith dictates.”

But Mr. Kaine, in a reply to the letter, stressed that the chaplains are volunteers who could have retained their positions and can return. He also said the policy would not result in “watered-down” prayers.

Mr. Klingenschmitt also said an e-mail including a pledge by 86 Virginia religious leaders to mobilize their parishioners to vote in response to the chaplain issue was sent to Mr. Kaine Friday.

He said the “Virginia, Stand Up for Jesus” rally will be held at the Capitol Square Bell Tower near the governor’s mansion Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. in support of the resigned chaplains and in protest of Mr. Kaine’s response.

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