The Evansville Courier Press had an editorial on legislative prayer. Let’s take a look:
The serial drama of prayer â€” sectarian or not â€” at the Indiana Legislature continues its run through the courts.
It was sectarian. Non-sectarian prayer isn’t and hasn’t been a problem.
To review: All heck broke loose in April 2005 when a minister invited to the Indiana House to give the daily opening prayer crossed the line that some believe separates church and state.
Some, like the Founders and the Supreme Court.
Before it was over, the minister, from the House speaker’s podium, was leading legislators and others in standing, clapping and singing “Just a Little Talk With Jesus.” It prompted some legislators to leave the session.
Good. This kind of revival-style Christian prayer is not appropriate as official business of the Indiana House of Representatives. Instead of announcing to the chamber that the minister would be leading a nice little song, Speaker Bosma should have asked the minister for something a little more ecumenical.
As a result of the controversy started from this event, a group of taxpayers sued to prohibit sectarian prayers from the speaker’s podium.
It was successful.
Federal Judge David Hamilton agreed with them, telling the House it could not open its sessions from the speaker’s podium with prayers that endorse any particular religion.
Again, non-sectarian prayer was fine. Always has been, always will be.
The story continues.
Last month, a federal appeals court dismissed the suit, saying the taxpayers who originally challenged sectarian prayers did not have legal standing to bring the suit.
And now, reports The Associated Press, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has asked the federal appeals court to reconsider this latest decision.
And the beat goes on.
We have a suggestion. We understand that the Legislature is going to be busy with the big property tax issue, beginning in November when it gets organized for the coming session in January.
But why don’t Republican and Democratic leaders or their representatives take just a little time and try to talk this out.
See if there isn’t common ground where they could agree on what does and what does not constitute an acceptable prayer to open legislative session.
This wasn’t such a big issue until that day in April 2005 when lawmakers were brought to their feet with that rousing hymn.
Go back to before that day and find out what worked.
Few Hoosiers would object to a thoughtful prayer that is inclusive to all, and does not cross any lines, constitutional or otherwise.
Work it out, and end the court case.
Right, non-sectarian prayer is fine. Always has been, always will be. Sectarian prayer that isn’t part of the House’s official business is also A-OK. But, when a particular religious sect attempts to mark the House of Representatives as its territory, we have a problem. But this isn’t a matter of House Republicans and House Democrats working it out. Both Republican leadership and Democratic leadership feign ignorance of what was wrong with the sectarian prayer. This is a dispute between citizens of differing faiths and their Representatives, not between Republicans and Democrats.