Virtual Voices

Yes, Virginia, there is a Jesus!

Religion

Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is catching flak from the ACLU because it does not like the fact that he has lifted the ban on police chaplains praying in Jesus' name. Virginia's former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine had issued the ruling in 2008, and the ACLU gang charges that McDonnell is giving in to conservatives and Christians in revoking the Jesus ban.

Well, maybe another former Virginia governor influenced McDonnell---Thomas Jefferson. The author of Virginia's famed Statute for Religious Freedom, Jefferson never tried to suppress Virginians' or Americans' free exercise of religion. In fact, as president in 1802, Jefferson invited Elder John Leland to preach a sermon in the U.S. House of Representatives. Leland, a Baptist lay preacher, surely mentioned Jesus. In that assembly sat Secretary of State James Madison, Jefferson's close friend and collaborator and the author of the First Amendment. I suspect Jefferson and Madison knew more about the Constitution than the ACLU does.

Of course, the ACLU thinks child pornography is constitutionally protected. We'd rather see children constitutionally protected---from people like the ACLU.

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The ACLU is in reality an "Anti-Christian Litigation Unit." Its Virginia leader, Kent Willis, said the governor's job is to protect "religious freedom for all." Indeed, it is. But to deny Christians the right to pray in the name of Jesus is to disfavor them over others. No one says that a Jewish chaplain cannot mention the Torah. Muslim chaplains certainly cite the Koran.

Christians believe that Jesus is the Word made Flesh. To deny them the right to mention His name uniquely disfavors Christians. That invidious discrimination is what McDonnell rightly revoked.

McDonnell's lifting of the ban on Jesus comes at the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to go along with atheizers who wanted to tear down the cross in the Mojave Desert, which was erected to memorialize World War I soldiers.

U.S. soldiers who fought in World War II are remembered at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France. That beautiful memorial park was seen on television worldwide when Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Obama went there to observe various D-Day anniversaries. What strikes the visitor to this cemetery is the acres and acres of quiet, dignified white crosses. Every few yards you see a white Star of David as well. No one protested. No one complained. Americans felt humbled and honored to have such a moving tribute to the young men who gave up their lives so that we might live in freedom.

The American Cemetery is, after all, U.S. sovereign territory. It was deeded to our country in perpetuity by a grateful French people. President Reagan often said the only territory the United States gained from World War II was the verdant acres in which we buried our dead.

McDonnell's bold actions follow in the footsteps of another great Virginian---George Washington. As president, Washington told the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, R.I.:

"[H]appily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that those who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. . . . May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants---while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."

Where did President Washington get that wonderful phrase---"the stock of Abraham"---and that beautiful sentiment about the vine and fig tree? They come from the Bible, of course, the same Bible the ACLU regularly attacks whenever it is publicly quoted.

The ACLU's attacks on Christianity would bulldoze all those Normandy crosses, all those Stars of David. Too often this radical outfit---whose court costs for their anti-Christian intifada are often reimbursed by the federal government---relies on intimidation and bluster to get its way. That's why we should applaud Gov. Bob McDonnell for defending Virginia values, for upholding the religious and civil rights of all, and especially for standing up to these courtroom bullies.

Ken Blackwell
Ken Blackwell

Ken, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency. Follow Ken on Twitter @kenblackwell.

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