Pray in Jesus Name Org. Scores Victory in City Council Vote
October 2, 2009
The Church Report — The Church Report
After several months of hard fought battles and over three hours of passionate debate Wednesday evening, the Lodi city council voted unanimously to allow “uncensored” prayer before the city’s public meetings.
The conflict in town of Lodi began in May when the city council went through their usual prayer before their meeting. During that meeting, a spectator in the audience took exception to the prayer and complained to the Freedom from Religion Foundation. It was shortly thereafter, that the complaint reached City Hall in Lodi.
After hours of public debate on Wednesday evening, attended by more than 800 people, the council voted between several options: eliminating prayer entirely, changing the prayer to a moment of silence, keeping the non denominational prayer with “strong enforcement” or allowing “full uncensored prayer.” Ultimately, the vote was a unanimous 5-0 in favor of allowing uncensored prayer.
However, this victory for prayer was not without tumult or fierce battles from both sides of the issue. Throughout the last several months, groups from both sides, including the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the vocal, Pray in Jesus Name organization, lead by former Navy Chaplain James Klingenschmitt, had rallied their supporters in an effort to gain the council votes needed.
The Pray in Jesus Name organization was said to have been prepared to publicly out Mayor Hansen of Lodi on his “No” vote. According to Klingenschmitt, “secret emails” were obtained and the group had learned of Hansen’s “no “vote in advance of the Wednesday meeting. Pray in Jesus Name was prepared to post billboards throughout the town stating Hansen’s vote and thus damage him in an upcoming election.
While this tactic was never initiated, Klingenschmitt said, “Although the Mayor complained of our plan, and called us un-Christian names, we’re grateful for his change of heart, whatever his reasons, he voted for Jesus and free-speech in the end. Perhaps the success of our billboard plan proves Ronald Reagan’s adage: ‘When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.'”
Following the conclusion of the unanimous vote, councilwoman Susan Hitchcock said that the council listened to the people of Lodi and was not concerned about a lawsuit.
David Diskin, a representative for Lodi United, a group seeking to ban all prayer in the council, said, “If they continue to invoke these specific deities and mentioning “Jesus” name, then there is the likelihood that we will continue this issue and that there might be a lawsuit.”
Finally, Chaplain Klingenschmitt, took a moment to give thanks and encourage other like those in Lodi who stood up for prayer by saying, “this victory should inspire legislators across America, that 85% of polled voters want you to allow public prayers ‘in Jesus name,’ even in public venues,” don’t cave-in to empty threats of lawsuits by atheist complainers. Christian voters will rally to support you, and Jesus is not an illegal word!”