In Latest Rightward Shift, McDonnell Lets VA Police Pray To Jesus

It’s not long the worst thing he’s done since taking office, but Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is certainly leaving little doubt as to who he’s listening to.

McDonnell, a Republican, yesterday quietly reversed a policy, instituted under the previous governor, Democrat Tim Kaine, prohibiting Virginia State Police troopers from referring to Jesus Christ in public prayers.“The Governor does not believe the state should tell chaplains of any faith how to pray,” a spokesman for the governor told the Washington Post. “Religious officials of all faiths should be allowed to pray according to the dictates of their own conscience, and in accordance with their faith traditions, while being respectful of the faith traditions of others.

The president of the Virginia Christian Alliance said last week that twice recently he has urged McDonnell to change the policy — once at a fundraiser at the governor’s mansion, and again in a private meeting with McDonnell’s chief of staff. Other Christian groups also had advocated the change.

Since taking office, McDonnell has moved Virginia sharply to the right. In February, he rolled back discrimination protections for gay state workers. He recently declared April Confederate History Month, in a proclamation that at first made no mention of slavery. And earlier this month, his administration announced that felons seeking to have their voting rights restored would have to submit a written essay — before later saying that the new policy had not yet been decided upon.