Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Now What?!

First the Indiana House of Representatives were told that Christian clergy offering prayer at the start of house sessions could not pray in Jesus' name. Now word has come that the United States Navy is censoring the speech of Navy Chaplains who end their prayers in the name of Jesus.

Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt began a hunger strike outside the White House this week to draw attention to what he sees as a violation of his rights and the disenfranchisement of the 80% of military men and women who claim to be Christian.

And while the military has no official policy concerning what it calls "sectarian prayers," evaluators at the chaplaincy center where Klingenschmitt received his training stand by with clipboards in hand to evaluate the prayers of prospective Navy chaplains. Those who pray to "God" are praised while those who pray in the name of Christ are "counseled" - the Navy's euphemistic term for being disciplined.

Lest you think the good lieutenant is a flame-throwing, other-religion-hating evangelist for Jesus understand this: He has also fought for the rights of Jewish sailors to eat kosher meals on board ship and has worked to have Muslim participation in the daily shipboard prayers. Apparently inclusivism only extends to those who don't believe in Jesus.

The second verse of the official Navy hymn, "Eternal Father Strong to Save," sings:

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

As a child, it always puzzled me that our church sang only the first an third verses of hymns. There was even a joke about "being as lonely as the second verse of a song." Apparently the Navy has decided, if not to cut the second verse from its own hymn, it can at least slash it from the vocabulary of it's spiritual leaders.

What is next?

To read the complete Washington Post story, click here.

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