Now, Now, Children, You Need to Learn to Get Along with One Another

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. The Commonwealth Virginia is facing a $3 billion shortfall in its two-year budget, a hiring freeze has been put into place, and state agency chiefs face a deadline to submit contingencies for chopping spending by up to 15 percent. And what has Virginia’s newspapers all in a tizzy?

Five members of the Virginia State Police chaplains program.

The chaplains resigned after being told they must abstain from praying in the name of Jesus or Christ during department-sanctioned events involving the public. (I am following the account appearing in the Times-Dispatch, although the Washington Post, Virginian-Pilot and at least four other newspapers published their own stories.)

It seems that state police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty directed the agency’s 17 chaplains to begin delivering neutral or non-denominational prayers at public events such as trooper graduation ceremonies and annual memorial services for fallen officers. Five chaplains have resigned in protest.

The state followed a predictable multi-cultural line. Flaherty said government agencies need to be “inclusive and respectful of the varied ethnicities, cultures and beliefs of our employees, their families and citizens at-large,” implying that prayers mentioning the name of Jesus are offensive to minority religious communities (or, more likely, militant atheist, ACLU types). For their part, the chaplains intemperately say the order disses Jesus. Said one: “What we have here is an attack on the name of Jesus, on the name of Christ. And I’m not going to sit back and just let it happen.”

Oh, brother. There has got to be some way to recognize the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who practice a religion in Virginia are Christian while at the same time acknowledging that there are increasing numbers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Druids, Wiccans and animists who do not embrace Christianity. Are we so obtuse that we can’t work in good faith to accommodate the sensitivities of all? Is it really that difficult?

As long as our culture celebrates aggrievement and victimhood, I suppose, it may well be impossible to accommodate everyone.

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