It was just supposed to be a normal non-political prayer delivered by a guest invited by Republican Rep. Mike Kiegerl, but it didn’t turn out that way at all. When Father James Gordon of St. John Vianney Catholic school stood in front of the Kansas House of Representatives, he gave a highly political prayer that sounded distressingly like something that would come out of the mouth of a conservative extremist waging a culture war.
Father James included topics such as abortion, same sex marriage, and religious freedom in his prayer, and angered many in the statehouse, including Republicans. Here is the relevant part of the prayer, via the Lawrence Journal World.
“We ask you to strengthen our understanding of traditional marriage: one man and one woman. We ask you to bring us back to virtuous morals in society, morals that kept us from killing a child in the womb through abortion. We ask you to defend us now in the fight for true religious freedom and freedom of conscience, that seems to be threatened now in the public sphere.”
Members of both parties felt the prayer exceeded the boundaries set by the House, as invited guests who lead the daily prayer are supposed to be neutral and deliver prayers that are free of politics and not devisive. The Journal World reports that “House Speaker Mike O”Neal, R-Hutchinson, said Gordon’s prayer “arguably went beyond” those guidelines,” while “House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said the prayer was inappropriate” and “needs to be ecumenical,” which means the prayer is supposed to be a general prayer that unifies. But apparently Catholic leaders didn’t get the memo.