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Posted at 3:31 PM ET, 04/29/2010

Jewish groups: Change Va. prayer policy

By Washington Post editors


The Jewish Federation communities of the Commonwealth have written a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell asking him to reconsider his decision that lifted a ban on Virginia State Police troopers referring to Jesus Christ in public prayers, Virginia Politics reports.

"It leads us toward unnecessary religious clashes, demeans our Commonwealth's Jeffersonian principles and creates an unwelcoming environment for the Commonwealth's Jewish citizens and other religious minorities,'' six representatives of the groups wrote. "A final concern is the likelihood that revisiting this guidance would ultimately lead to litigation costly to our Commonwealth."

Read the full letter here.

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By Washington Post editors  | April 29, 2010; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia  | Tags:  Bob McDonnell, Jewish Federation, Judaism, Virginia State Police  
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Comments

Why is it that all other religions become offended by the name of Jesus?

Posted by: Silverchex | April 29, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that most US Christians a) don't know history (most of the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians) b) won't recognize the fact that there are other religions in this country?

Posted by: isaac105 | April 29, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

how comfortable would you be if the man in charge was praying to Allah out loud at the beginning of every meeting? you'd be uncomfortable right? well that's how minority religions feel when lambasted with Jesus at public meetings, it's called seperation of church and state

Posted by: destewar | April 29, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

As a Jew and a former synagogue president, I could care less about state troopers praying. I am aware though that there are professional "leaders" who make it their business to be outraged. Six of them signed the letter.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | April 29, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

As President Washington himself wrote, addressing the Hebrew Congregation at Newport in 1790:

"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

It is disappointing to see that so many in Richmond are no longer following the example of the great Virginian who served as our nation's first president. The setting up of one "preferred" religion, in this case Christianity, renders all others as inferior as a result of not having the governmental seal of approval.

The religious right, as embodied by Gov. McDonnell, must not be permitted to undermine this important tradition and rewrite a fictitious history of this country.

Posted by: demostheneswashdc | April 30, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow there are some bigots posting here. Our nation is made up of many religions. Jesus happens to be in only one of them. Therefore, it isn't right to invoke his name in public prayer. It also violates the separation of church and state that this country was founded upon.

Posted by: Thundershock | April 30, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

The issue is not public prayer, it is official prayer. There is a difference.

Someone (or a group) of a particular religion praying in public, in the manner dictated by their faith, should pose no problem for anyone.

But prayers offered at an official state event, on behalf of the attendees (such as an invocation), are another matter. They should be as ecumenical as possible. It is not a matter of someone taking offense; it is a matter of core constitutional principle.

This distinction has long been maintained by military chaplains, where military policy draws a sharp distinction between, say, Catholic Mass or Jewish services at the base chapel and a prayer offered at an official event attended by an entire regiment.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 30, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

mentioning Jesus in a Christian prayer is not bigotry, persecution or a slam at other religions. I don't see Christians getting their panties in a knot when a rabbi leads a official or public prayer.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 30, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Here goes our governor again, needlessly stirring up controversy--his pointed omission of gays in his anti-discrimination declaration, his defense of his alter-ego attorney general bringing turmoil to the Virginia campuses and disgrace to the image of Virginia with an uncalled-for opinion about provisions for gays in anti-discrimination policies on the campuses of Virginia, his declaration of Confederate History Month at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization the Legion of the South, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes a hate group, subverted, and now this. This is the "moderate" governor the Democrats tried to warn you about.

Posted by: cmckeonjr | April 30, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Meridian1 clearly states the issue.

Posted by: newageblues | April 30, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

State employees, on official time, at official functions, have a duty to recognize that other people at that function may not want to pray in a particular persons names, whether is be God, Jesus, Allah, or the spaghetti monster. Thanks for the Food, Amen. Insert your own To Whom:.... seriously. I AM offended when someone at work subjects me to their fantasy religious world.

Posted by: tuckerjules | April 30, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Reading the comments above, it is disappointing, but not really surprising, to see that bigotry and antisemitism is alive and well amongst the readers of this paper.

Posted by: sg2000 | April 30, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

To Nemo24601 , did you mean "I could care less" or did you mean "I couldn't care less" big difference

Posted by: george62 | April 30, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

renounce faith, embrace rationalism, join the 21st century

Posted by: onemoreexpat | April 30, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I would like someone to explain to me why there must be official public prayer in the first place. Why can't people who wish to pray simply pray at home or at their house of worship, whatever their fatih? Why do these state troopers, who serve as agents of governmental control, have to pray officially? And if they do have to pray, then yes, invoking Jesus Christ specifically suggests Christianity as an official religion, which it is not. This country is great in its unique Constitutional clause that the government shall not establish a religion.

Posted by: indep | April 30, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me that Jesus Himself considered prayer to be a private event anyway (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). In fact, according to Matthew 6:6 He instructs His followers to “...go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." I'm just sayin'...

Posted by: cgardner1 | April 30, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

...No wonder they dont want to hear of jesus after all they condemned him to death when called upon to do so.

Posted by: judyterry
============================================

And where would you be if they hadn't done so?

Posted by: jayjordan | April 30, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

As a Jew, mentioning a two thousand year old corpse is fine with me. I have to live with born again neighbors trying to 'convert' me everyday. Some people just like to live in the fantasy of the past. Let's move on. If you need to pray to Jesus, Allah, Hercules, Prince Charming or any other historical figure to get you through your job, do so. Just leave me out of it.

Posted by: jsshul | April 30, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Yes Ricardo3, there is something that won't offend us. Keep your religion out of our faces. Your right stops where it intrudes into my right and my safety.

Posted by: samchannar | April 30, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Good point jayjordan! Reminds us that the Creator's plan far and away exceeds our petty politcal concerns. Our inability to grasp any of it (the proverbial "one monkey") don't stop no show so let's all get over ourselves and try to be the all inclusive nation we are extemely blessed to have the opportunity to be!

Posted by: cgardner1 | April 30, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Clearly some folks on this blog have never heard of the principle of seperation of church and state. Howabout we instead make the State Troops pray to Mecca during their next prayer meeting. Now THAT would make the Christians get their "panties in knot" Mr. ronjaboy. If you want to pray to Jesus, feel free to do so on your own time in your own domain, not at a public function of a government institution. They should be trying to catch crooks rather than praying anyways $$$.

Posted by: kschur1 | April 30, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Even though I am a very committed Jew I don't go ballistic when Christians want to practice their religion.

The only question is how much authority the majority has to require the minority to participate in their practice.

It is not proper to make me participate in prayers to a god that I do not believe in. Why should I? I'm perfectly happy with my own prayers...

Posted by: Jerusalimight | April 30, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Tit for tat: I propose that MU . . . HAMMIT be used as an alternate cuss word to replace JESUS CHRIST!

Posted by: billwald | April 30, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I remember the outrage when a Dallas City Council Member decided not fight the long line of very Christian Prayers at the start of City Council Meetings, but when it was his turn to invite the religious figure, invited a Wiccan Priestess.

The reaction of the other Council Members pretty much put to rest any claim that they were not promoting the Christian Religion by their selections.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | April 30, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: ronjaboy "mentioning Jesus in a Christian prayer is not bigotry, persecution or a slam at other religions. I don't see Christians getting their panties in a knot when a rabbi leads a official or public prayer."
---------------------------------
Thats because the organization would never ask a Rabbi to do the invocation. If this was only a meeting the State Police's christian officers club or something, then its just fine, but if this is a meeting that is attended by everyone, than it also got to fit everone. Really they should just stop the riligious anything associated with a secualr, governmental department.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | April 30, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

brattykathyi1:
Wrong my friend. You want this to be a Christian Nation. There is nothing in the constitution or anywhere in the framer's documents that state that. The Fathers intended this to be a secular nation. More christians immigrated into this country. That does not make it a Christian nation. It is too late in the drama to change the script.

Posted by: samchannar | April 30, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Curious, where is that syncophant Eric Cantor in all this?

Posted by: cgardner1 | April 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

A ban on speech? On speech that is at its core an expression of self, and not of hatred or libel of others? How undemocratic. Good for Governor McDonnell for lifting the ban. There never should have been one in the first place.

Posted by: cprferry | April 30, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps brattykathy and judyterry can get together to share a cup of bile. They and the other bigots who have responded have very little respect for this nation's key document, the Constitution.

They also have very little respect for Christ if they feel those who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc etc. in public gatherings should pray in his name, even if they do not accept him as Savior. Although I would note that in Islam, Jesus is a prophet.

McDonnell and Cuccinelli are an embarassment to this long-time resident of Virginia.

Posted by: Leila1 | April 30, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Those that voted for him are rejoicing

Posted by: Badwisky | April 30, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Leila1,

These kinds of civil prayers are not religious acts, they are civil traditions that express the universal, perhaps even by now secularized, values and ideals of our culture that utilize the customs and expressions that our religiously-inspired and motivated culture has provided.

Posted by: cprferry | April 30, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

It's astounding that in the year 2010 belief in three ancient desert religions causes so much strife. At least the Mormons and Scientologists have tried to move things into the modern age. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are pressing their historic exclusionary agendas to new heights, all while life around them moves forward and leaves them behind. Enjoy fighting your pointless battles. The rest of us are evolving.

Posted by: cash-less | April 30, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for religious tolerance, but it cuts both ways. The jews run around with their yamakas, the indians run around with their dots on their heads, africans run around with their traditional garb and nobody says anything - which is as it should be.

However, when some people see a Bible or hear the word Jesus, they fly into a rage as if Christians are trying to convert them or curtail their religious liberties. This country is supposed to provide religious freedom. No one ever said that you had the right to never be annoyed, offended or uncomfortable.

So to all of you knuckle heads who think that Jesus is a dirty word - suck it up and extend to Christians the same tolerance that you want from everybody for YOUR views.

Posted by: xconservative | April 30, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

It is offensive to pray to a man. He is only a man, though a messenger of God, but man nevertheless. how do we know that? we know it because he was born of a woman. He was born just like any other man, through her private parts, no exception. Thus how can intellectual men in this day and age pray to a mere man is beyond any common rational. Comingling of man and God is also very offensive to the idea of PURE Monotheism. WHich was not praticed by the Patriarch. After all said and done, he still remains a messenger of God but a man made of flesh and blood, nothing more. Blinded by fore father complex modern man is veiled from this ugly reality, Indeed a sad epic in human history.

Posted by: coolthinking1 | April 30, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

If the Jews wants to curtail Christianity in public presume they should also put a stop to Jews praying at the Wailing Wall in occupied Jerusalem.

Posted by: jibsail | April 30, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Virginia is for wackos and wingnuts.

Posted by: mdpilot | April 30, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse


Let's get rid of all religion. It is the basis of most of the intolerance in this world.


Posted by: mortified469 | April 30, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Why is that a group which comprises 1% of the population yet runs our banking, entertainment industry and practically the government complain about the good deal they have? I wish this "chosen" 1% would pack up and leave to their homeland.

Posted by: SSTK34 | April 30, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

SSTK34: Because we made the US a freakin awesome country. The reason Jews run banking and entertainment is because we're smarter and more hard-working than you.

If you want things to change, DO BETTER.

Posted by: jakemd1 | April 30, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Lazy, welfare-mongering WASPs. The reason we're not in Iraq is because WE HAVE JOBS. We went to college instead of joining the military workfare program for lazy WASPs.

Posted by: jakemd1 | April 30, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, THIS IS MY COUNTRY. If you have a problem with it, go back to England.

Posted by: jakemd1 | April 30, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

America the brave, America the free! We endured the pains of emigration, felt the heat of biggotry and haterd thru any misstept of our God given Rights! Paid the price on all battlefields. Mistreated cursed, and spit on, denied medical care when we came home! The rewards for doing our duty for God and Country!

Posted by: vince128 | April 30, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Does our bright, intelligent governor bother to read the Fredericksburg decision by Justice O'Connor in 2008:

"Turner was not forced to offer a prayer that violated his deeply-held religious beliefs. Instead, he was given the chance to pray on behalf of the government. Turner was unwilling to do so in the manner
that the government had proscribed, but remains free to pray on his own behalf, in nongovernmental endeavors, in the manner dictated by his conscience.

His First Amendment and Free Exercise rights have not been violated. For these reasons, the decision of the district court is AFFIRMED."

In other words, If you are a government official in any fashion you cannot use "In the name of Jesus Christ" in ANY government prayer.

Posted by: CaptMidnight | April 30, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

I came frome the time in the past. And,comments added in this column reminds me of the enemies of ww2. Of which possibly many commenters have no conceptions of war. Only what media sources or hollywood dreams or fantasizes!
The smell of death camps, the battlefiels of decaying corpses!And yet want one to be sensetized on prayers! Education is not a religion. It' a deterrent on human grouth and development! Reaching ones master's or docterate don't qualify one to a seat at the table! But a place at the Nuringburgh criminal trials.

Posted by: vince128 | April 30, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo3, you don't offend me because you're an idiot!

Posted by: wp318676 | May 1, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Bob- Time to bring some Rabbis on board the VSP. I can say, with utmost certainty, that these folks don't speak for all of the Jewish People.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | May 1, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

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