By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
Like Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, police chaplains in Charlotte are being told not to call on the name of Jesus in public.
The order not to mention Jesus in prayers at any police events affects some half dozen chaplains who voluntarily serve the department’s 2,000-plus employees and is being billed as an effort to increase “inclusiveness.”
“Apparently, with this logic, prayers are inclusive as long as they don’t include Jesus,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We can’t imagine how authorities in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department can claim that they want all religious faiths to be respected, when Christian chaplains are banned from speaking the very name of their savior.”
Maj. John Diggs, who is over the department’s chaplain program, told the media the new policy’s intent is “not to demean Christianity in any way but make sure everyone feels included regardless of what their faith is.”
But the Rev. Russ Dean of Park Road Baptist told the Charlotte Observer he would love to see ministers of various faiths given the change to offer prayer in their own way.
He said that in demanding non-sectarian prayers, “We are really asking people of diverse faiths to become a part of some homogenized pseudo-faith, a public religion that is offensive to all because it attempts to offend none.”
Seven-year veteran chaplain Terry Sartain, pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship, asked to be excused from offering prayer at a promotions ceremony last month when he was told that he could not mention Jesus.
“Jesus is all I’ve got for a blessing,” he told reporters. “I want to serve the officers and their families. I don’t want to jam my beliefs down anybody’s throat. But I won’t deny Jesus.”
Dr. Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte and president of the N.C. Baptist Convention, told News 14 that people of all faiths should come together to push for a reversal of the decision. He said his church has a close relationship with the police and that he prayed in Jesus’ name just a month ago at a police memorial service without any repercussions from the agency.
Dr. Creech said he hoped believing chaplains would follow the apostles’ example in doing what is right in God’s eyes and that news reports surrounding the policy change would ultimately embolden Christians and bring glory to the Lord.
“Like Peter and John, as Christians we should not be able to help speaking about what we have seen and heard,” he said, “whether in private or in public.”