CBNNews.com - Pastors from across Virginia gathered Wednesday in support of six state police chaplains who resigned amid a controversy over praying in the name of Jesus.
Last month, the state police superintendent asked chaplains to offer only non-denominational prayers at public events and ceremonies.
In response, 86 pastors and Christian leaders signed a letter sent to Gov. Tim Kaine, calling on him to overturn the decision. Supporters of the letter gathered near the state's capitol in Richmond, Wednesday.
"This edict is unacceptable and unconstitutional and must be reversed immediately," said Bishop Council Nedd, chief of the group In God We Trust USA. "Gov. Kaine must immediately rescind this decision and beg the state police chaplains who have resigned in protest to return to duty."
Chaplains were reportedly told not to use the name of Jesus, but a police spokeswoman has denied that claim.
"There was no written directive nor were chaplains specifically told in their meetings with the executive staff and colonel that they could not use 'Jesus Christ' in their prayer," police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said last week.
Rex Carter, one of the troopers who stepped down as chaplain, explained to CBN News why he resigned.
"My faith, my Bible teaches me that I serve a personal God," he said. "I have a personal Savior, a personal relationship with Christ. And so to deny Christ in prayer, whether it's public or private, goes against what I believe personally the Bible says."
The pastors say they are prepared to move on with a state-wide prayer rally next month, depending on how Gov. Kaine responds.
"This could impact the national election, since Virginia is such a close race," former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt explained. "These 86 pastors pledged to mobilize their people to vote accordingly, so the courage of these six police chaplains who were forced to resign because they prayed 'in Jesus' name,' could turn America's head on Nov. 4."
Chaplains are still allowed to pray as they choose at private events like funerals.
Republican lawmakers in Virginia say the prayer restrictions are a violation of the First Amendment and an attack on Christianity.
A copy of the pastors' letter will be available here http:/www.PrayInJesusName.org/, beginning Oct. 2.
Sources: CBN News, Christian News Wire, PrayInJesusName.org