Minnesota state Senator Terri Bonoff is Jewish and recently sat through a Senate invocation recently where the invited chaplain laced his prayer with so many references to Jesus Christ she felt incredibly uncomfortable having to hear him. So, she got up and complained about it.
After the prayer, Bonoff rose to voice her objections. She also demanded that he not be invited back. And now the Democratic lawmaker wants senate leaders to require chaplains to deliver non-denominational prayers.
“I’m a very religious woman and believe deeply in God,” Bonoff told Twincities.com. “We honor God in public and our political discourse, and that’s proper. But in doing a nondenominational prayer we are honoring him without violating the separation of church and state.”
Churches, temples and synagogues ought to be a god’s domain, not political arenas. To keep them split that way really would be a separation of church and state, yesno? What goes on now is a complete and total sham.
It doesn’t sound like they’ll go along with her request anyway.
State Sen. David Brown, who invited Pastor Campbell to the senate, defended the prayer.
“If we’re going to invite clergy to the Senate session to pray, we know they’re coming from a denomination or a religion that represents a belief system,” he told Twincities.com. “I believe we don’t have the right to censor their prayers.”
The easiest solution to this would be to simply stop inviting religious figures to the sessions. Tradition it may be, but it’s completely unnecessary and the practice should be discontinued. That Twin Cities article notes Hawaii’s decision to eliminate opening prayers but it looks like other states are never going to agree to something that sensible. Minnesota likely won’t if all they’re going to complain about is how many times Jesus gets a mention.
Brown, who joined the Senate in January, said he’d oppose attempts to keep Christianity or other specific religious references out of opening prayers.
“Pastor Campbell, yesterday, he just prayed the way he would always pray, and there just seems to be intolerance for the name of Jesus on the Senate floor,” Brown said.
Campbell declined to say which state senator invited him to pray in the Senate chamber. But he said there was nothing in his prayer to which Jewish people should take offense.
“There’s nobody that loves the Jews any more than the Christians, so that was not meant as an insult or disrespect,” Campbell said. “Rather, it was a show of respect to Jesus Christ — just like our founders showed respect to Jesus Christ and the word of God when they built our Constitution.”
Campbell’s whole spiel there makes me giggle for some reason. Probably because it’s laughable, I guess. About the Constitution (breaks added):
It has often been seen on the Internet that to find God in the Constitution, all one has to do is read it, and see how often the Framers used the words “God,” or “Creator,” “Jesus,” or “Lord.” Except for one notable instance, however, none of these words ever appears in the Constitution, neither the original nor in any of the Amendments.
The notable exception is found in the Signatory section, where the date is written thusly: “Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven”. The use of the word “Lord” here is not a religious reference, however. This was a common way of expressing the date, in both religious and secular contexts.
This lack of any these words does not mean that the Framers were not spiritual people, any more than the use of the word Lord means that they were. What this lack of these words is expositive of is not a love for or disdain for religion, but the feeling that the new government should not involve itself in matters of religion.
Yet governments across America keep throwing religion into it, be it by prayers everywhere or policy making that drives a decidedly (fundamentalist?) Christian agenda. It’s unfair to everyone whose faith doesn’t fit. There’s probably little we can do about the beliefs that drive the values that drive the politics but the prayer can certainly be scrapped. Don’t waste time trying to find a balance that will please everyone and no one equally. Just scrap them all.