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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Legislative prayer, the view from New Jersey

Legislative prayer has been an issue in the Indiana General Assembly in the past few years, with an appeal now pending before the 7th Circuit. See a long list of ILB entries here.

Robert Scchwaneberg of the Trenton Star-Ledger has a lengthy and fascinating survey today of the legislative prayer issue that is well worth reading in its entirety. It begins:

"Let us pray. Mother and Father of us all, we give thanks for the women who have been part of our life's journey. ... Bless the following proceedings with your presence."

Spoken aloud at a public high school graduation, these words probably would trigger a lawsuit. But in the New Jersey Legislature, where they were said recently, it's just a matter of getting things started.

The state's tradition of inviting a member of the clergy to deliver an opening prayer dates to 1846. And while it may be a comfort to many, the practice has remained controversial to this day.

On roughly three days out of 10, a member of the New Jersey Legislature hears a prayer offered in the name of Jesus Christ. In Indiana, such an invocation could get someone jailed for contempt of a federal court order.

And in December, hours after a state Senate committee approved a bill allowing gay couples to form civil unions, the visiting clergyman intoned: "We curse the spirit that would come to bring about same-sex marriage."

He won't be back.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 1, 2007 10:49 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions