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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Prayer in Indiana House goes viral, criticized"

Niki Kelly has a great story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on a video apparently surreptitiously taken in the Indiana House that has gone viral on the Internet. Some quotes from the J-G story (which includes a link to the video) [ILB emphasis]:

Video of a prayer on the Indiana House floor last week is making the Internet rounds -- drawing more than 780,000 views and a lot of critical comments.

Clayton Jennings of Noblesville -- billed as an evangelist, author and poet -- was invited by the Republican Caucus Chairwoman, Rep. Kathy Kreag Richardson.

He gave a prayer Wednesday that lasted nearly three minutes and included phrases calling out politicians not to lie or bend to lobbyists.

Several people of different faiths in the room were uncomfortable with its sole focus on Christianity.

In the video, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma mostly kept his eyes on the back of Jennings' head in front of him, bowing and closing his eyes only briefly during the prayer.

Bosma's demeanor was roundly criticized on Facebook where Jennings posted a video of his prayer, clearly taken by someone off the side of the chamber. There were thousands of comments on the video from all over the country. * * *

Bosma was sued in 2005 about allowing sectarian or proselytizing prayers to open daily House sessions. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana at the time said that on dozens of occasions during the 2005 session of the Indiana General Assembly, visiting ministers or legislators offered prayers with a heavy Christian emphasis, invoking "Jesus our savior," "In Jesus' name we pray" and "the lord of lords, your son Jesus Christ."

The group contended the practice far exceeded a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which allowed non-sectarian prayers to begin legislative sessions.

There was a ban limiting content of the prayers until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2007 threw out the suit because of lack of standing. The court did not rule on the merits of the case -- whether prayers offered at the podium to open legislation session can be sectarian or favor one religion.

Since then, the prayers have been offered technically before session is gaveled in. This means they are not recorded as part of the live webstream or archived video.

ILB: Video of the House prayers was available for the 2005 lawsuit. As reported in an Indianapolis Star on Feb. 8, 2006:
The House video camera, suspended above the chamber like a never-blinking black eyeball, already has resulted in one lawsuit -- the successful challenge to the traditional opening prayer in the House. The fact that the House had video through all of the 2005 session, while the Senate did not, led to the lawsuit being filed only against the House.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 15, 2016 11:29 AM
Posted to Indiana Government