Volunteer chaplains in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have been told not to use Jesus’ name in prayers at public events held on government property.
Pastor Terry Sartain of Horizon Christian Fellowship told FOX News Radio he was informed of the change by his superior major just before he was about to give a invocation at a promotion ceremony.
‘I was told chaplains can no longer invoke the name of Jesus on government property,’ Mr Sartain said.
‘[He said] if I could refrain from that during the invocation he would appreciate that.’
Mr Sartain said he was upset by the new rules.
‘I’m very sad about it,’ he continued.
‘I’m a pastor and Jesus is the only thing I have to offer to bless people — his life and his person.’
He said that he had used the name of Jesus in the past at police events and not had run into any barriers then.
He told the news station that he was informed the police department said he could still pray but they wanted chaplains to deliver a ‘secular prayer.’
Major John Diggs, who oversees the chaplain program, told WSOC that the new policy is a ‘matter of respecting that people may have different faiths and that it is not aimed at any one religion or denomination.’
In reaction to the news, Mr Sartain has told the police department he does not want to be considered for any for future public prayers.
American Civil Liberties Union member Jim Gronquist told WSOC.
‘It’s improper to mix up religion with the function of state agents, and as long as they’re state agents, they should not be able to do that.’