Taking the Name of Jesus Out of Public Prayer

By   •   June 23, 2012

Take your time with the decision, Terry Sartain was told.

A police chaplain for seven years in Charlotte, N.C., Sartain was given the news three days before a promotion ceremony — there was a change in policy.

He could no longer pray in Jesus’ name during public events held on government property.

Maj. John Diggs, who heads the police chaplain program, called Sartain with the news and said he didn’t have to decide on the spot. But to get back to him the next day.

Sartain, a pastor at Horizon Christian Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel church in west Charlotte, didn’t need 24 hours. He didn’t need 24 seconds.

“The only thing I have to offer is Jesus,” said Sartain, who asked to be excused from giving the invocation. “There’s no way I would ever deny Jesus. No matter what.”

Sartain, also a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team since 2006, served at the Virginia Tech shooting in Blacksburg, Va., in 2007.  

His viewpoint is strikingly similar to that of Franklin Graham, who in his book The Name talks about a moment just before praying at President Bush’s inauguration where he was asked by a fellow participant if he was going to pray in Jesus’ name.

“That’s the only thing we’ve got,” Franklin Graham responded.

And indeed, he closed out his prayer: “We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Despite the change in policy, Sartain says he still feels called to minister to the officers of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, even though he will no longer do so at CMPD ceremonies, where the use of Jesus’ name on public property has been forbidden now for about a month.

The reasoning, Diggs explained to him, was the police department wanted to be “more inclusive of all faiths” of the 2,000-plus members of the CMPD. He heard that one recent prayer, since the changing of policy, ended with the phrase “to the being that’s in the room.”

“That’s the kind of world we live in,” he said. “I used to pray at police graduations and promotions. I’m sad about it.”

Sartain isn’t trying to force his religion on anyone, but feels very strongly that he needs to stay true to what he believes. And he’s still volunteering for individual ministry as a chaplain.

“I still do ride-alongs with police officers,” he said. “I still deal with traumas. I do marriage counseling. It’s all about relationships.”

Just Thursday, he was called into duty to minister to the family of a 49-year-old woman who died in the northwest Charlotte area.

“I’ve gotten a lot of emails this week,” said Sartain, after his story has been picked up by national media outlets. “People thanking me for taking a stand. It’s not a stand, it’s just who we are (as Christians).”

Scripturally, Sartain along with many other Christian pastors will tell you the Bible commands us to pray in the name of Jesus.

Ephesians 5:20: “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

John 14:3: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name; so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

“Jesus gave me this life,” he said. “He gave me this great gift of forgiveness of my sins. To pray any other way is ludicrous.” 

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  1. Joann says:

    It saddens me that this is what our nation has stooped to; it is not prayer that offends. It is the name of Jesus. Thank you Pastor Sartain for standing boldly in the faith. We all must do the same until Jesus returns.

  2. Melissa says:

    Thank you Pastor Sartain for standing up for the truth!!!

  3. Alex says:

    Well said Bob, I truly hope that the Lord will forgive us for our sins against Him and that we will allow Him to move us back into the right direction

  4. peter says:

    Soon every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD .

  5. Jeannie says:

    God is answering our prayers by giving us a boldness to “not deny Him before men.” Thank you Lord! May all of us, when given the opportunity, stand for Christ, and Christ alone.

  6. Dave says:

    Political correctness is taking away our rights. But Mr Sartain is with Jesus not the World.

  7. Isaac Ajayi says:

    God Bless you, we should let them know now.

  8. Bob says:

    No wonder that this nation is in such a terrible mess. When Christ is removed from public places as we are now witnessing all around us, then we all suffer by what is now happening to our country. May the Lord forgive us.

  9. Debra says:

    Praise God ! Thank you for standing up for God''s people and God's word. Our country has turned it's back on God by taken him out of everything public. May God forgive us and send revival to this great country .

  10. Paula says:

    I thank you for taking a stand and for encouraging other Christians to take a stand for public prayer in the name of Jesus, because He is all that we have. Before, during, and when all else fails we still have Jesus!