Charlotte police: No more 'Jesus' in department prayers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police department is moving towards nonsectarian prayer during police ceremonies.

In the past, volunteer chaplains have included Jesus' name in their invocations at official department ceremonies, but the department wants the prayers to be more inclusive.

"Our goal is to certainly not demean Christianity in anyway, but make sure everyone feels included here regardless of what their faith is," said Major John Diggs, head of the department's volunteer chaplain program.

He says the move towards nonsectarian prayer came about last month after a discussion between six volunteer chaplains.

Although CMPD believes the change is more inclusive to its 2,000 employees, some Chaplains are not in agreement.

"Not everyone agreed with our policy, but I believe all understand that the proceedings that we are asking for invocations to be delivered at are a government function," said Diggs.

The debate over the separation between church and state is playing out across the state.

Earlier this year, County Commissioners in Rowan County refused to stop praying in Jesus' name despite requests from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU says government functions are not religious services.

But not all Christians are against nonsectarian prayer.

Reverend Nancy Allison of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ agrees with CMPD's decision.

"I think it shows respect for people who come from a variety of backgrounds and faith traditions," said Allison.