Here is a story out of North Carolina today:
“A North Carolina pastor was relieved of his duties as an honorary chaplain of the state house of representatives after he closed a prayer by invoking the name of Jesus. “I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation. Baity’s troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina. “When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus,” he told FOX News Radio. “She said ‘We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.’” When Baity protested, she brought the matter to the attention of House Speaker Joe Hackney. “I told her I was highly offended when she asked me not to pray in the name of Jesus because that does constitute my faith,” Baity said. “My faith requires that I pray in His name. The Bible is very clear.” When the clerk returned, Baity said he was told that he would be allowed to deliver the day’s prayer – but after that – his services would no longer be needed. Hackney, a Democrat, and House Republican Leader Paul Stam released a joint statement to FOX News Radio:
Baity said he’s not happy with the way he was treated. “When the state tells you how to pray, that you cannot use the name of Jesus – that’s mandating a state religion,” he said. “They talk about not offending other people but at the same time, if they are telling me how to pray – that’s the very thing our forefathers left England for.” The Christian Law Association helped Baity draft a letter asking for an apology and an opportunity to return to the state capitol and finish his tenure. “The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” attorney David Gibbs told “We trust that the North Carolina House of Representatives will realize its mistake and will offer Pastor Baity another opportunity to pray without requiring him to use a prayer that is mandated by government.” Baity said he is still stunned by what happened. “You would expect this somewhere else – Cuba, Saudi Arabia,” he told FOX News Radio. “You would never anticipate this happening in the United States of America.” In a word – the pastor said – the decision is “anti-Christian.”
We are told that apostasy and godlessness would be the condition of the world at the time of the end: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b) and, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thess. 2:3).”Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
The Bible states that if you deny Jesus is God, you are dead in your sins (John 8:24,58 cf. Exodus 3:14). Whom else would the Chaplain pray TO, except God? Denying him the opportunity to appeal to God in his prayer through Jesus denies God.
Besides the obvious state of increasing faithlessness, there are two things that rise to the level of severe concern with this incident. First, it was a Chaplain who had been hired for the purpose of praying. His stance was not unknown to the Legislature, and his presence there was invited. It wasn’t a case of intrusion, or incorrect doctrine or surprising comments in an inappropriate place. It was a prayer by an ordained minister.
Secondly, this occurred in North Carolina. NC is a bible belt state, in the conservative and Christian south, with a high number of church-goers. 84% of the population claim Christianity as their personal religion in that state. It didn’t happen in San Francisco, or Saudi Arabia, or Vermont. It happened in a place where the name of Jesus is lifted up in many venues, including the opening of the Legislative sessions.
Removing God from a life, culture, nation has always brought judgment. This time will be no different. When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith upon the earth? By the looks of things, we won’t even have to wait that long.