Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty's direction to police chaplains to stick to non-sectarian prayer when acting in a governmental capacity has created quite a storm across our state. The news even led House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith and Delegate Charles Carrico to release statements attacking Governor Kaine for the actions of his Police Superintendent.
It is ridiculous enough that in a time of economic distress and war our elected officials would attempt to distract us with a non-issue, but simply Google the name of the man who is driving this issue and you will find that we have reached a whole new level of absurdity.
Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was convicted by a Navy court-martial in 2006, is the former Navy Chaplain whose cries were among the first on this issue, and continue to be the loudest and most vitriolic. In a press release, Mr. Klingenschmitt created the "Attack Governor Kaine Bandwagon" upon which Delegates Griffith and Carrico now sit, calling the deeply religious Governor Kaine a "persecutor" and implying that the former missionary campaigned on his faith only to abandon it once elected Governor.
This issue is near and dear to Klingenschmitt, who faced the court-martial for disobeying a direct order and wearing his service uniform at a religious protest in front of the White House. Klingenschmitt was protesting the Navy's non-sectarian prayer policy.
In his trial, Klingenschmitt's boss, Capt. Norman Holcomb, head chaplain at Norfolk Naval Station where Klingenschmitt was stationed, described him as:
...untruthful, unethical, insubordinate, contemptuous of authority... and a totally frustrating independent operator.
Klingenschmitt's defense did not call a single witness on the last day of his trial. Why? This article explains:
Commenting on why his attorneys called no witnesses in his defense Wednesday, Klingenschmitt said he reached that decision after hearing God's voice three times the previous evening.
"In the trial of Jesus Christ, he never opened his mouth in his own defense," the chaplain said
How did this man get the attention of the media, several elected officials and a number of church organizations? I'm not sure, but I do know this story gets better... Stay tuned for "Who is Gordon Klingenschmitt? Part 2."