How can Iowa be so good on gay rights and so bad on religious freedom?
Mount Auburn Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R) is trying to get a law passed that would force new congresspersons to say “so help me God” when being sworn into office.
Pettengill dismisses concerns her proposal would offend lawmakers who may not believe in God. She said it’s potentially offensive to her not to have the phrase in the oath.
If she wants to say it, she can say it. No one is stopping her.
There’s no reason to force a useless homage to an non-existent being on people who know better than that.
Unless you’re a Republican and you want to excite the religious right base…
Pettengill belongs to the same legislative body that begins each session with a prayer.
Dear Senator/Representative Last Name:
Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers (IAF) is a nonprofit corporation based in Des Moines. You may have heard of IAF from advertisements placed on DART buses in Des Moines in August. The advertisements read “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
IAF members are writing to object to prayers that begin each legislative day. We object, not because some of our legislators want to pray, but because our elected representatives choose to make prayer official state business. We object because the prayers are sectarian with invited clergy invoking the name of Jesus Christ. We object because our taxpayer dollars are being spent to pay invited clergy $10 for each chamber they pray in and to reimburse the invited clergy’s roundtrip mileage. We object because attendance for the prayers becomes mandatory for clerks, pages, and other legislative staff whose work requires them to be in the chambers at the time of the prayer because the chambers’ doors are closed and no one is allowed to leave.
IAF has members all over the state. As elected representatives of your districts and of all Iowans, your governmental practices and traditions should reflect the diversity of the people you serve. An officially sanctioned prayer by Iowa’s legislators alienates every voter and citizen who is not religious and whose religion differs from the prayers your invited clergy and some legislators themselves offer.
IAF members request that the daily prayer be eliminated as an official legislative activity. IAF members request that the prayer be held prior to legislators gaveling in for the start of the legislative day and that the chambers remain open to ensure that attendance is voluntary. This would require that legislators replace House Resolution 2 (passed January 12, 2009), which specifically addresses opening prayers. Additionally, IAF members request that Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 (adopted February 24, 2009) be updated so that invited chaplains are no longer paid any amount for their services and are no longer reimbursed for their mileage expenses to the State Capitol.
Randy Henderson, IAF President
Randy and IAF are correct. There is no reason to begin each day’s sessions with a prayer. By voicing their concerns, they’re getting the issue in peoples’ minds and getting politicians to state their reasons for keeping it in there. I want to say these can be used against them in the future… but I doubt their opposition to IAF’s request will hurt their political prospects.
Speaking of which, another Iowa rep must be taking debate lessons from Pettengill.
Representative Kent Sorenson (R) Indianola says, “We don’t chain the doors and require people to stay in there. If they say I’m imposing my religion on them, then aren’t they imposing their beliefs on me by asking for this?”
NO! Why the hell is this so damn hard for them to understand?!
No one is “imposing a belief” on Christians by requesting that official prayers not be said. Your personal, private prayers? Fine. Say them all you want. State-sanctioned, government prayers? Absolutely not.
(Thanks to Nancy for the link)
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