Members of the Indiana House began the legislative session Wednesday with an informal prayer, in an effort to get around a judge's order that prayers at the Statehouse be non-sectarian.A Democrat and Republican lawmaker led two prayers at the back of the House floor before official business began.Democrat Peggy Welch included the words "Lord" and "Holy Spirit" in her prayer. Republican Eric Turner specifically mentioned the name "Christ" in his prayer.House Speaker Brian Bosma suggested that because the prayers preceded official business, were voluntary and in the back of the chamber, they met the court's mandate.Bosma has called the court ruling intolerable and says it tramples on free speech. He has appealed the November ruling by U.S. District Judge David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.He said Wednesday he was confident the ruling would be overturned. But until then, he would use the informal prayers to comply with Hamilton's order."We are a nation of laws, even laws that we disagree with," Bosma said.Hamilton ruled that invocations offered in the House could not mention Jesus Christ or use other Christian terms such as savior because they amount to a state endorsement of religion. His order also bars promotion of other religions, and he said nonsectarian prayer was necessary if the tradition in the House was to continue.
Protestors Rally In Favor Of Traditional Prayer
Prayer protestors converged on the Statehouse Wednesday as lawmakers prepared to open the legislative session.A group called the United States Strategic Prayer Network staged a rally to demand that Jesus Christ's name be used at the Statehouse.
The group said Christ's name must be heard. They also said Satan, liberal spirits and homosexual spirits should leave the Statehouse, RTV6's Norman Cox reported."Jesus Christ!" LaShar Sharp, of Crawfordsville, exclaimed repeatedly. "Jesus Christ is Lord!"
Indiana Legislators Face Controversial Issues
Many controversial issues are on the agenda as House goes into session. The items on the agenda include:
Funding Highway Projects
Interstate 69 Expansion
Property Tax Relief
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and others will push state lawmakers to merge fire departments and streamline township services in Marion County.The requests are part of the mayor's Indianapolis Works 2006 campaign. A similar effort failed to win the approval of the General Assembly last year.The House begins its session Wednesday. The Senate is off until next week.