IND. LAWMAKERS & CITIZENS PRAY DESPITE COURT ORDER
David M. Bresnahan
Indianapolis -- A court order was issued to prevent prayers that mentioned Jesus Christ during the sessions of the Indiana legislature, but that did not stop protestors from praying anyway when the lawmakers began their 2006 session on Wednesday.
More than 50 members of the Indiana House of Representatives gathered in a huddle at the rear of the chamber and held a prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, just a few minutes before the opening gavel that began the session.
Both Democrats and Republicans were seen participating in the prayer. Citizens also gathered and offered prayers in other locations within the capital building.
For 189 years the Indiana House has started each daily session with a prayer, but because of a lawsuit by the Indiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union a judge ruled the prayer could stay, but the name of Jesus Christ could not be mentioned.
House Speaker Brian C. Bosma and others voiced a loud protest, and on the opening day of the session demonstrated their objections with a prayer.
The official prayer has been dropped because of the ruling by U.S. Federal Judge David Hamilton, Southern District of Indiana.
Bosma decided to avoid a direct clash with the court and dropped the official prayer for the session, and instead gathered with legislators in a huddle and gave an "unofficial" or "informal" prayer instead, according to news reports of the event.
He told reporters the same process would be followed each day of the session. Bosma also said the House will officially appeal the court order by Feb. 15.
"We're taking a stand. We're making a statement," Bosma said. "But within the bounds of the court order."
"Requiring people to pray in accordance with government-approved theology directly interferes with the freedom of conscience and speech that each of us holds so dear," Bosma told the packed gallery in the House chamber, according to news reports.
The spectators and elected leaders joined in a standing ovation.
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David M. Bresnahan has over 30 years of experience as an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, radio station owner, talk show host, and business owner. David has been a prominent writer for many Internet newspapers.
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