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Former Navy Chaplain Takes On Anti-Jesus Legislators in North Carolina

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Posted on July 14 2010 4:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog LisaGraas.com since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.

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Former Navy chaplain Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt, who was punished for praying “in Jesus name” in uniform in 2006, is taking on North Carolina legislators who support banning the name of Jesus from House prayers.

As previously reported, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) are working to ban the name of Jesus from prayers offered in the Forsyth County, N.C., Board of Commissioners’ meetings.  That controversy has spilled into the State House as Baptist Pastor Ron Baity was “fired” for invoking Jesus in prayer during a House session.  A spokesperson for the leftist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – self-described “guardian of liberty” – has claimed that when Pastor Baity prayed during the House session, he was acting as a “government mouthpiece”.

Klingenschmitt, who leads the Pray in Jesus Name Project (PJNP), is pressuring legislators to restore the constitutional right to prayer in the public square by sending them more than 140,000 faxes demanding the reversal of Speaker Joe Hackney’s ban of the word “Jesus.”  PJNP has successfully overturned “Jesus bans” in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma , Oregon, California and Virginia.

In an interview Tuesday with NRB, Klingenschmitt provided an update on the progress and plans of PJNP.

NRB: Have you received any feedback from N.C. legislators on your petition campaign?

Klingenschmitt: More than one thousand people signed our free petition on the first day, and we will fax their personal comments to all 120 State Reps and 50 Senators, delivering more than 170,000 petitions for Jesus’ name this week.  Signers include people from all 50 states and scores of North Carolina voters.  But the anti-Jesus Speaker Joe Hackney is already defending his verbal ban of Jesus Christ  from public prayers, after he disinvited Pastor Ron Baity who heroically refused to water-down his prayers, and punished the pastor with exclusion for exercising his conscience.  Now Hackney apparently wants to deflect public criticism by appointing a six-member bi-partisan panel to review prayer guidelines for the House and report their findings.

NRB: Are you aware of any counter efforts from the left such as an opposing petition campaign or calls for action to oppose you from leftist groups?

Klingenschmitt: I saw only one quote online from an ACLU analyst, but he selectively quotes case-law that contradicts the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, wherein Justice O’Connor specifically authorized legislatures to PERMIT sectarian prayers in Jesus’ name, when she ruled:  “the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer. In Marsh, the legislature employed a single chaplain…the legislature in Simpson allowed a diverse group of church leaders from around the community to give prayers at open meetings. Both varieties of legislative prayer were found constitutional.”  And the North Carolina Constitution is pretty clear, especially in Articles 13 and 14, “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.  Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.”

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