Pastor ordered not to mention Jesus in prayer. His response deserves a standing ovation

A new order from the Carlsbad city manager in California now prohibits fire and police chaplains from using the phrase “in Jesus’ name” during prayers.

Pastor J.C. Cooper, who has been a volunteer police chaplain in Carlsbad for six years and serves as the associate pastor at The Mission Church, and his father, Denny Cooper, who has served as the fire department chaplain for 18 years, are affected by this decision.

In early March, J.C. was invited to deliver an invocation at the Carlsbad Police Department Awards Ceremony. Without thinking twice, he ended his prayer with “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Within a month, Police Chief Christie Calderwood informed J.C. that the city council had decided that chaplains must remove the phrase “in Jesus’ name” from their public prayers or face disciplinary actions. Around the same time, Fire Chief Mike Calderwood conveyed the same directive to Denny Cooper.

Pastor J.C. Cooper

J.C. expressed his refusal to comply, stating, “Removing the name of Jesus from my prayers would be a denial of my Savior Jesus Christ, a violation of my conscience, and a sin.” Consequently, J.C. declined to participate in the upcoming Carlsbad Police Promotion Ceremony, where he would typically deliver the invocation.

J.C. and his police chief met with City Manager Scott Chadwick to discuss the matter further. Chadwick argued that praying in Jesus’ name constituted “harassment, created a hostile work environment, and lifted one religion above another.” He stated that J.C. and Denny could use any name for God except “Jesus.”

In response, the First Liberty Institute, a non-profit legal group defending religious freedoms, sent a letter to the Carlsbad City Council requesting the removal of the recent order. The letter emphasized that the chaplains cannot, in good conscience, omit the name of Jesus from their prayers.

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