Thursday, December 01, 2005

Debating prayer in the Indiana House

It started simply enough, with song. "Jesus makes it right.....alright....alright...alright."

Except not everyone in or outside of the chamber in the peoples' House feels the same way.

On Wednesday a federal judge barred the Speaker of the Indiana House from permitting sectarian prayer as a part of official business of the House.

Speaker Brian Bosma thinks, "it is overreaching. It really is an inappropriate and way over the top ruling by the judge."

Curt Smith from the Indiana Institute sees it as viewpoint discrimination. "To ask one faith to be inclusive, I think asks it to go against its own tenants and belief. All we can do in America is have an open forum where people of all faiths can come and make their statements and offer their prayers and then each individual chooses in the freedom of their conscience."

"On public occasions we should be celebrating our oneness rather than our differences." Reverend Bill Enright, who delivered the opening prayer at the Statehouse when he served as Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church, says he sees the ruling as an opportunity. "God is bigger than any one of us. God always breaks the boxes in which we like to put ourselves or we like to put others."

On the street, Hoosiers have their own opinions.

"I think it is inappropriate. I believe in the separation of church and state."

"If we all serve one God and one religion we should be able to express our opinions in that matter."

Speaker Bosma realizes the importance of this question. "This case has a precedent setting effect for the country in addition to all the local boards and councils that open with prayer. They will all have to live under this."

Many also start with the Pledge of Allegiance, which Rev. Enright says is fitting. "We say in our pledge, 'one nation under God.' I think that says who we are and we pray to the same God and I don't see anything, as I read this judgment that prohibits that."

He says this could be a growth period for us, which will officially begin when the legislature convenes January fourth.

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