Is it okay for a police department to have chaplains? Well, in Charlotte, North Carolina it seems that it is alright as long as they aren’t Christians. For years, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has had a chaplain deliver an invocation at promotion ceremonies and such without any problem. But recently they have instituted a new policy which does not allow a chaplain to invoke the name of Jesus on government property. And why? It is a matter of “respecting that many people may have different faiths.”
One of the current chaplains, Terry Sartain, a local pastor, was informed that he could no longer pray in Jesus’ name. To be sure, the police department said he could still pray – just not to Jesus. When he asked to whom a Christian minister was supposed to pray, the department said they wanted him to deliver a “secular prayer.”
When I read this, I just shook my head and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” But the fact is, this is becoming more and more commonplace. A supporter of the new policy, ACLU member Jim Gronquist, said, “It’s improper to mix up religion with the function of state agents.”
The problem is, it is impossible not to. The belief that informs the new policy is just as much a religious belief as are Christian beliefs. By declaring that the environment in the public square must be free of Christian belief, it is asserting that a non-God belief is the default religion of the government.
This kind of thinking is very difficult for many secularists to absorb because they truly think that not allowing prayer in the public square eliminates all religion from that sector. But in truth, it only replaces one belief with another.
As Christians, we must grasp this concept. We certainly shouldn’t be forcing our religious beliefs on other people, but we must also not allow others to force theirs on us. We need to understand the concept of worldview and how that plays out in society. Then, based on that understanding, we need to stand strong as we share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.