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Prayer is free speech, not proselytism

Date published: 4/9/2014

Prayer is free speech, not proselytism

Senate Bill 555 provides that "The religious content of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard shall not be censored or restricted by any state government official or agency, so long as such content does not urge disobedience of lawful orders."

The bill passed the Senate unanimously (!) and the House of Delegates by a wide margin.

Gov. McAuliffe's decision to veto this bill is an outrage, made worse by his nonsensical justification that the bill endangers "the religious freedom of National Guard members by potentially exposing them to sectarian proselytizing ."

The governor's justification demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the free speech rights that Virginia heroes pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to win and protect.

In our free society, the remedy for exposure to sectarian proselytizing is to walk away or change the channel; it is emphatically not to muzzle the speaker.

I encourage the members of the General Assembly of both parties to move swiftly to override the governor's ill-considered veto.

The governor's veto embarrasses Virginia and her proud history at the forefront of American religious freedom.

Joseph Corrao