Chaplains can pray 'in Jesus' name'

Chaplains can pray 'in Jesus' name'

Chaplains can pray 'in Jesus' name'

The nation's largest non-profit legal organization dedicated exclusively to defending religious liberty is reminding officials of a California city that chaplains have constitutional rights.

After the city manager issued an order forbidding police chaplain JC Cooper and fire chaplain Denny Cooper from concluding prayers at some events "in Jesus' name," First Liberty Institute sent a letter requesting that the Carlsbad City Council change its policy.

Attorney Kayla Toney says the Coopers were told the prayers were a form of harassment.

"This was obviously very concerning to the chaplains," she tells AFN. "They felt that this infringed on their free exercise of religion."

She asserts that the volunteer chaplains had not been preaching at all.

Toney, Kayla (First Liberty) Toney

"They were simply praying for unity, for safety, and protection for the members of the fire and police departments," the attorney details. "They just ended their prayers in the name of Jesus because they believe that Jesus is the way to God and the source of their spiritual strength. Because the chaplains can't erase the name of Jesus from their prayers, now they're not able to give invocations at all because of the city's order."

First Liberty's letter explains to the city how the First Amendment works, specifically how the Constitution protects the prayers of the diverse faiths that have long thrived in the country.

"They don't have to be generic. They shouldn't be censored or watered down," Tony notes. "Our hope is that this letter will help the city change course and allow these chaplains to continue praying in the name of Jesus, as they always have."

First Liberty has even offered to assist the Carlsbad City Council in developing a constitutionally appropriate chaplain policy.

AFN is seeking comment from the mayor, city council members, and the Carlsbad police and fire departments.