Most people don’t go looking for punishment.
But Gordon James Klingenschmitt is not most people. When he encountered a policy that went against his deepest religious beliefs, he boldly and publicly defied the policy and then demanded he be punished.
Klingenschmitt was serving as a U.S. Navy chaplain in 2006 when Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter issued a policy stating chaplains could be punished by their commanders if they prayed in Jesus’ name outside of church.
“So I read this policy and I decided to take a stand,” Klingenschmitt said in a recent interview on “Revealing the Truth” with the Rev. Rabbi Eric Walker. “I figured if chaplains are going to be punished for using the word ‘Jesus’ in their prayers, then I want to be the first. I volunteer to fall on my sword and violate this policy.”
Navy chaplains were still allowed to pray to God or say “amen,” and they were still allowed to pray in Jesus’ name during a Sunday chapel service. However, they could not pray in Jesus’ name Monday through Saturday or while wearing their Navy uniforms outside of the chapel.
In March 2006, Klingenschmitt flew to Washington, D.C., and stood outside the White House on a Thursday morning. While wearing his Navy uniform, he prayed in Jesus’ name in front of television cameras.
The Navy offered to punish Klingenschmitt quietly with a letter of reprimand, but the rogue chaplain demanded his legal right to a court martial. The Navy brass obliged and in September 2006 charged Klingenschmitt with a misdemeanor. He was found guilty of violating the new policy by praying in Jesus’ name in uniform.
“Tears of joy came to my eyes in that Virginia Beach courtroom because I was finally found worthy to share in suffering for the name of Jesus Christ,” Klingenschmitt recalled.
The chaplain was issued a letter of reprimand and forced to take a pay cut, but his small suffering would soon turn into a blessing. That’s because hundreds of newspapers ran his story that week, and the court of public opinion then put the U.S. Navy on trial.
According to Klingenschmitt’s recollection, 35 pro-family groups marshaled their mailing lists and 300,000 Americans petitioned Congress on his behalf. The grassroots effort eventually pressured Congress into ordering the Navy to reverse its policy. Two months later, Winter rescinded the policy, allowing chaplains to once again pray in Jesus’ name in uniform seven days a week.
Klingenschmitt went on to found The Pray in Jesus’ Name Project, which he has used to help other Christians fight similar battles. He claims his organization has helped change bad policies in 13 different states.
Now Klingenschmitt is sharing the expertise he has built up from 10 years of fighting in the trenches for the rights of Christians. His new book, “How to Liberate the World in 30 Days,” is a manual for how to engage in political activism. It equips readers with 30 powerful political tools they can learn in 30 days. With a prayer at the end of every chapter, the book also serves as a Christian devotional.
Klingenschmitt emphasized his book was not developed based on theory.
“I have followed these methods now over the past 10 years, and this is how we have changed bad policies in 13 states around the country,” he said. “There are 15 victory stories in the book, and those 15 victory stories prove the success of our methods. This is a recipe book for liberty.”
One of the “victory stories” Klingenschmitt recounts in the book centers on pastor Gerry Stoltzfoos, who was told by the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives he was not allowed to pray in Jesus’ name when he prayed before the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Klingenschmitt read about the pastor in the newspaper and leaped into action. He and his organization bought a few email lists containing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters’ email addresses. They targeted the voters with an email campaign and got more than 1,000 of them to sign a petition demanding the pastor be allowed to pray in Jesus’ name.
Then they fired up their fax machines and buried 250 state legislators in a thousand pages each, containing the names of Pennsylvania citizens who demanded Stoltzfoos be allowed to pray in Jesus’ name.
After being flooded with the faxes, the legislators met privately with the speaker and convinced him to rescind the policy.
It’s only one example of what’s possible when ordinary citizens rise up and make their voices heard using smart, proven techniques, according to Klingenschmitt.
“If you want to take back your country, if you want to change bad laws, if you want to elect real conservatives instead of RINOs, this book will teach you how to do fundraising, how to organize an election, how to recruit volunteers – everything that we’ve done, state by state around the country,” Klingenschmitt declared.
“How to Liberate the World in 30 Days” is a manual for political activism by a man who’s been through the fight, Gordon Klingenschmitt.