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March 25, 2009

A crackdown on prayers in the Senate

The Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter sends over this dispatch from the State House:

A J-bomb went off in the Maryland Senate this morning, Julie Bykowicz tells the basement, who tells you.

During the morning prayer, a pastor from Bowie uttered the name of Jesus. This is a no-no, because it is considered insensitive to non-Christians, and possibly unconstitutional.

Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller shook his head in disgust as the name was said and later said the prayer would not be journalized.

He ordered the secretary of the Senate to review prayers from now on.

This was the latest in several times this session that visiting pastors failed to refrain from mentioning the name of their Messiah, despite admonitions from Senate leadership to keep it ecumenical.

The House of Delegates used to have this same problem, so several years ago they simply decided to have delegates recite prayers instead of having visiting ministers, rabbis, priests and imams do the honors.

Still, lawmakers in the House also slip up occasionally. Earlier this session, Del. Donna Stifler, a Harford County Republican, mentioned the “prince of peace,” a reference to Jesus, in her convocation, though she quickly corrected herself and said she meant to say “God.”

Posted by Andy Green at 10:51 AM | | Comments (8)


Figures, Mike Miller is more worried about the word "Jesus" being used in a prayer than he is about reprimanding two of his members under FBI investigation.

To further illustrate "priorities" in Annapolis, you have post two of the day from the Sun's Maryland Politics Blog-- Del. Conway wants an official State Walking Stick.... what the (another bomb)?

That makes no sense. Just as we would not reprove a Muslim or Jew from praying in the name of their god, why would a Christian be chastized for praying in the name of Jesus? The washington post blog indicates that Pastor Mark Lehmann (the person praying) submitted this prayer in advance, as is the standard procedure. He stuck to the prayer, line for line, and yet Miller was appalled. Why? It was his oversight.

I am writing this because I believe it is ok by you to do so. You will know it in your hearts...I am not trying to break any rules.I could't find any rules to read anywhere on this site. Please afford me my American opinion. I used to give tours around Annapolis for the State Legislature when I was in High School. I was actively involved in Student Government and was the youngest student to ever be voted Student Rep to the Board of Education by the majority vote of all the students in my high school, twice. I actively provided alternate activities for the student body so that they would not engage in drinking, drugs, and driving sponsored by the Howard County Health and Police departments. My peers and I have been personally awarded a Citizenship award by The County Council and I believe all this has happened because there is a God in heaven who creates miracles, and His name is Jesus...." I believe Christians should be able to pray in the name of Jesus no matter where they are." would our Founding Fathers of The United States of America ask for the same rights if they were right here in Maryland today? really thinf about that one. Being a Christain is an important lifestyle. Jesus said that we are the salt and the light in this dark world that we now live in. If we do not stand up for our rights now, what might they delete from us next? As a citizen I am asking for compassion and a miracle here. I have been a citizen of heaven and of Maryland practically all of my life. How many people in Maryland attend a Christain view of life every day in the state of Maryland? I bet there is a majority of people out their who whole heartily agree. "All things are possible with God." We believe and know that Jesus is God. Please do not take away our rights like they have done to us in foreign countries who are not democracies. This is what we must take a stand for. I believe He can change your heart on this matter because any elected official is only in office because God has allowed it to happen. He holds our hearts in His hand. He is a God who changes hearts and delivers you. He is hope for this nation in crisis. Why not seek Him for this answer. He is waiting to give you the answer of Truth "Jesus is the Way, The Truth, and the Life." My vote is to allow Christain Pastors to Pray in the name of Jesus no matter what building they are in. Thank you for letting me voice and may God Bless you.

It is the shame of the country and particularly Maryland, when the prayers our founding leaders, such as Patrick Henry, would be stricken and not meet the criteria of Senate President Mike Miller, particulary when they were approved ahead of their reading. It is a shame of the press and particularly Andy Green, when the whole story is not properly investigated and reported. This is the real story, the direction the very bad direction leadership is taking us, along with the press not properly investigating and reporting all the facts. Why didn't Mr. Green state the pray was submitted and approved in advance and post the pray for readers to review. Poor leadership and sloppy reporting, very dangerous for society over a long period of time.

Here is a copy of the prayer by Pastor Mark Lehmann that was stricken.
Almighty God, Sovereign Lord, We come before you this morning with grateful hearts for all that you have done. Your grace towards our nation, towards this state and towards all in this chamber has been nothing short of amazing. We understand that you have been far better to us than we have deserved and we know that all that we have comes from you and we do not want to take for granted your blessings on each one of us. The Psalmist King David declared in I Chronicles chapter 29 that “you are from everlasting to everlasting and that yours O Lord is the greatness and the power.” He reminded us that everything in heaven and earth is yours and that you are exalted as head over all. We agree with David when he says “In your hands are strength and power to exalt and to give strength to all. We thank you together Mighty God for your faithfulness and love.
Now this morning we ask for these leaders that you have entrusted to help direct the details of this state. We ask that you would give them wisdom that comes from heaven. The Apostle James encouraged any person who lacks wisdom to ask God for wisdom and that you would grant it. These leaders need your wisdom like never before they are faced with challenges that only you know the depth of, and they are faced with pressures from many sides. We pray for them this morning that they would be wise men and women who ask you for grace and rely upon you for the wisdom that they need. Our Lord Jesus declared that those who come to Him in humility would find forgiveness, hope and direction for every day of their lives and for eternity. That is what I pray for these Senators gathered here today. Lord Grant them grace as they walk in humility before the God of the Universe, grant them peace even in the middle of the storms that they are facing personally as well as in this state. We ask that you will grant them divine wisdom so that the decisions that come out of this body would be pleasing to you and beneficial to the people they have been entrusted to serve.
We thank you Our Lord and King that in these incredible changing times we can put our trust in the hands of a changeless God. One who knows us and loves us and is more than willing to help in every situation if we will just ask for that help. You Lord have promised to never leave us or forsake us and at this time in the history of our state we depend on that promise. We ask that the men and women of the chamber would not forsake you as they deliberate, and that they would not depend on their own abilities or listen to other sources that would take our state away from real truth, but as the Word of God declares that they would trust in the Lord with all their hearts and lean not on their own understanding, that they would acknowledge you in all their ways so that you would direct their path. We humbly ask these things in the name of the name that is above all names, the matchless name of Jesus our Savior. It is in His name that we pray. Amen

I'm glad the Sun leaves it's comments section open unlike the Washington Post that closed its comment section on this issue.

So my comments are; Did the electorate of Maryland vote Mike Miller as a politician to represent them or vote for a religious bigot?

Does Mike Miller live in the USA - where freedom of religious expression is a Constititional right or does he live in a communist country where freedom of religion isn't free?

Since when can't Christians mention the central figure of their religion in their prayers?

They should stop the prayer thing altogether. Contrary to popular Christian belief - this country was not established on the principals from the Bible or by the Pilgrims.

The Unites States was established on the secular idea that men (women now included) are equal and have the right to make an educated choice (and uneducated as well) - and vote accordingly.

Choice is not to be dictated by the church or someone who claims to be in contact with God (more than you are).

If this country were truly established on principals of the church and Bible, Christianity would have been made the established religion and we would not be allowed to vote. Our leaders would be appointed by God (or some clergy that 'represented' that God).

But that isn't the way it was set up - and I'm thankful to the founding men of this great nation for that.

Bring back separation of Church and Sate as our founding fathers attended. There should be no invocation or prayers in the senate.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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