I don’t think prayer should be involved in any legislative or governmental event at all. I go back to the simple separation of church and state and actually choose to take it a bit further. If we are to accurately uphold the first amendment (in the USA) and allow everyone to have religious freedom, we cannot under any circumstances allow any form of prayer in the government if respect is not shown for all parties involved. All prayer does is alienate those of us who pray differently, no matter the faith, or those that don’t pray at all - because the only prayer that the government wants to let into their world is the Christian kind.
I say if someone wants to say their own prayer before they go into work, that’s fine, but they should do so from the comfort of their own office away from the public. Otherwise, respect needs to be shown for whoever is doing the prayer that day.
And if they are going to allow those of other faiths to come in and pray for the meeting (or whatever event is going on), then those that are organizing the government-sponsored event, or who work with the legislative body, should be required to stay and listen out of respect. They don’t have to participate, but if they are going to allow others the opportunity to pray their way, the least they could do is show them respect by listening.
This is why I absolutely love what the Satanic Temple is doing with their statues and prayers. If I’m not mistaken, the point is not to have their statues placed as well, but to make the politicians and public see how hypocritical they are being when they say that all religions are welcome, but then choose to exclude other religions.
Either way, I think the prayer is beautiful and inclusive to all faiths, and was wonderfully spoken with the best of intentions. It’s a shame that lawmakers and politicians couldn’t see it for what it was - a beautiful, well-meaning call of faith to guide the legislative body to make the right decisions.
It’s also very sad to me that the representatives came together in prayer, not for their work, but to save Maynard and pray that she finds the “one true God”.
Reike Plecas of I Believe Radio was also present. He said that he didn’t see the alternative prayer gathering as a protest as much as a joining together to pray for Maynard’s soul.
“As a Christian, I have to stand in faith for her salvation and pray for her. Not pray against her, but pray against principalities and more so for her salvation,” he told the Muscatine Journal. “I personally don’t believe that Christians came here to stand against the Wiccan priestess. I believe that we came here united to stand for her salvation.”
This situation shows a lot of what is wrong in the USA today. Instead of seeing Maynard being there as a way to unite as a community and hear what she had to say, the lawmakers who left (and turned around) decided that they would use it as a way to show that they are a divided community. I mean, one representative actually approached Maynard afterward and invited to talk to her about Christ.
Rep. Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines) decided not to leave the room, but to turn away during the moment.
“I thought to myself, ‘What would Jesus do?’” he stated. “Jesus would be in the chamber from my perspective. He would passively protest and then He would seek that individual out and have a peaceful conversation with them about why His way was the best way, and so that is what I did today.”
Taylor says that he approached Maynard later and extended an invitation to speak with her about Christ.
I think it is 100% out of line for a politician to approach a member of the community - a constituent - and basically tell her that he thinks she is damned to hell and he has an obligation to save her soul. These people are the reason that most pagans choose not to go public with their faith. These people are the reason that a lot of us hide who we are and are afraid for our lives - or at the very least, our sanity - when we go out in public with any identifiable pagan symbolism.
The prayer wasn’t controversial at all. It was beautiful, and it makes me angry that those who were voted into a position of power aren’t using their platform to spread a unifying message. Instead, they choose to further alienate those they consider “other” and further spread a platform for hate and fear to continue in their community.