Two Years Later, Klingenschmitt Might See Victory in VA

Back in 2008, we wrote a few posts based on claims by Gordon Klingenschmitt and other right-wing activists that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine had supposedly “fired” several State Police Chaplains because they prayed publicly “in Jesus’ name” and had banned chaplains for praying in such a manner.

It wasn’t true, but that didn’t stop Klingenschmitt, Rick Scarborough, Mat Staver and others from holding a rally in Richmond in an effort to get the decision reversed.  That never happened and the issue faded away … at least until recently, as now it looks like the issue will be brought up again now that a Pat Roberston-approved governor is taking control in Virginia:

[Del. Charles W. Carrico, a retired state trooper] already has refiled the measure for the 2010 session, which begins Jan. 13. He said he is hoping for a better result now that senators have had more time to think about the issue.

He also could get a boost from the change in the governor’s office. Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, who had threatened to veto Carrico’s bill, will be succeeded by Bob McDonnell, a conservative Republican with close ties to the Rev. Pat Robertson.

“The governor-elect is a strong supporter of religious liberty and the right of religious officials to freely practice their faiths, unimpeded by government,” McDonnell spokesman J. Tucker Martin said. “He is reviewing the directive from that perspective.”

He said McDonnell would withhold further comment until after he takes office.

Flaherty issued the order after a federal appeals court upheld a Fredericksburg City Council policy that banned opening council meetings with sectarian prayers. The order applies only to department-sponsored public events, not to private events such as funerals or counseling sessions with troopers or victims.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the directive applied to only one event in 2009 — the department’s annual law enforcement memorial service. She said the department stands by Flaherty’s 2008 statement that the state police must “be inclusive and respectful of the varied ethnicities, cultures, and beliefs of our employees, their families, and citizens at-large.”