Religious Right Groups Get McDonnell to Rescind Prayer Policy for State Police Chaplains

Back in 2008, Gordon Klingenschmitt found a new crusade, demanding a reversal of the policy implemented by Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty telling policy chaplains to offer nondenominational prayers at department-sanctioned public events.

Chaps organized rallys protesting the policy, but to no avail … at least until Bob McDonnell became Governor, who has now ordered the policy changed thanks to lobbying by state-based Religious Right groups:

After months of lobbying by conservative activists, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly reversed a policy banning Virginia State Police troopers from referring to Jesus Christ in public prayers.

McDonnell this afternoon sent Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the State Police superintendent, to tell the nine troopers who serve as chaplains about the change in policy.

“The Governor does not believe the state should tell chaplains of any faith how to pray,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Marin said. “Religious officials of all faiths should be allowed to pray according to the dictates of their own conscience, and in accordance with their faith traditions, while being respectful of the faith traditions of others.

Donald Blake, president of Virginia Christian Alliance, said last week that he spoke to McDonnell about the change at a recent fundraiser at the governor’s mansion and at a private meeting with McDonnell’s chief of staff Martin Kent.

Other groups, including the Family Foundation of Virginia, also support a change and have been lobbying for one. The governor’s office has received a handful of letters, faxes and emails in support of a reversal.

“We are obviously thrilled that Governor McDonnell has fulfilled his campaign promise to restore the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia. “His action reverses the discriminatory policy of the previous administration and ensures that chaplains can remain true to their faith at public events.”