Guess Who’s Insulted by Florida House Prayers in Jesus’ Name?

Not news: The Florida House of Representatives holds invocation prayers before legislative sessions.

Not news: People are complaining about it.

News: It’s not atheists!

A Jewish lawmaker in Florida approached the Speaker of the House this week on behalf of other Jewish legislators who state that they are offended and insulted by the practice of praying in the name of Jesus during House sessions.

Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek contacted Speaker Will Weatherford to explain why what he called “the J.C. moment” presents a problem.

“This year more so than others, every time the prayer comes up, it’s in Jesus’ name,” he said. “This is my seventh year talking about it, and it’s getting to be too much. It would be nice to have an inclusive prayer.”

It’d be even nicer if they did away with the public prayers and got down to work. But how else are they supposed to get re-elected? By writing and debating meaningful legislation?! That’s crazy talk.

You wish, Will Weatherford

At one point, the speaker said to Waldman “I hear your concern but I can’t tell someone how to pray.”

To which Waldman responded:

“Well, you can actually… It’s supposed to be non-denominational. I mean, that’s the law actually, it’s supposed to be non-denominational, not proselytizing, and it’s just not been. This year, in my opinion, it’s been worse than any of the years I’ve been here. The chaplain, who of course did it himself, is supposed to give them a form that says it’s supposed to be non-denominational. For Jewish members, it’s an insult.”

This whole problem would be solved if Christians in the House prayed before they came to work. It’s not like the prayers help them vote any more wisely, anyway.

This idea that the prayers are okay because each representative gets to choose someone to do it is absurd. When non-Christians have a rough time getting elected, it’s no surprise that the prayers end up being Christian. The idea that the prayers should continue because it’s tradition is equally ludicrous.

Maybe if one of these politicians brought a Muslim or atheist or Wiccan to deliver the invocation, that point would finally get through to the Speaker.

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • baal

    When I did time at a State House, about a third of the members stood outside of the chamber during the invocation is not so silent protest over the sectarian nature of the christian prayers. The Jewish members didn’t sit the chamber for them.

    I can’t say the prayer did anything but suggest we have a majority christian House and the minority were welcome to sit outside (definition of marginalization).

  • Kengi

    But…but… Wasn’t “non-denominational” supposed to mean Evangelicals and Baptists?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I see what you keep doing there!

    • Godlesspanther

      You mean include BOTH denominations? That’s a bit too radical. What are you — some kind of…..

      COMMUNiST?!

  • A3Kr0n

    They tell him “Got JC’d again”? That’s real mature.

    • NewDawn2006

      You are expecting maturity? You have much higher expectations than I :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chengis-Khan/100003317165064 Chengis Khan

    I hope, I will be permitted to perform my voodoo ritual in the well of the house, and slaughter a ‘virgin’ rooster (yes, a virgin rooster), sprinkle it’s blood around perimeter of the house, so that our beloved Bugid Y Aiba will bless all representatives with wisdOOm.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Religious freedom – It is time to dismantle the oxymoron.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • ortcutt

    The concept of “non-denominational prayer” is nonsensical. In most cases, it ends up just being Generic Protestant. You can’t have prayer that doesn’t refer to the religious beliefs of some religions.

    • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

      BINGO! This person deserves a cookie!

      No matter what, prayer will lead to one religious sect or another there is no middle road offending no one prayers, and for anyone to think there is, is foolish.
      The time wasted on prayer would be better spent ACTUALLY doing something to fix whatever problems arise.

      • Ann Onymous

        You can’t even pick an inoffensive pronoun. The gender and number of imaginary beings are ever debated.

  • sunburned

    Even worse than the article is the comments that followed it. I used to have such a high opinion of humanity, but you know, lately it’s been faltering a bit.

  • Tor

    Back when I was a child in Christian Sunday School, we were taught that a prayer not prayed in the name of Jesus was not a prayer at all. To a conservative Christian, an inclusive prayer is as good as nothing. Nothing would be better.

    • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

      I was taught the same thing, in fact my former minister complained all the time about the prayers conducted governmental meetings not using the name of Jesus. “They might as well not pray at all, god’s not listening if they don’t ask through his son.”
      I agree with him on one point, they shouldn’t be praying. What’s the point? It’s a waste of time and energy, and causes far more problems than it fixes (and it fixes nothing).

  • Matto the Hun

    You’d think this would almost prove that there isn’t a God.

    How a irritating it must be to be God and your oh-so-faithful followers are nagging at you for every little damned thing!
    House Christians: “Oh dear LORD please guide us and give us strength in our government duties, blah, blah, blah, Jesus name, yadda, yadda”
    GOD: “Oh for fuck sake! Just do your job already! I gave you strength last week, what, you think it runs out? What kind of lame ass God do you take me for?”

    If there’s was a God he’d almost definitely be smiting the irritatingly faithful all over the damn place just so he can get some damn peace and quiet.

    • WallofSleep

      When I was a praying man, it was my opinion that the only appropriate prayer was one of giving thanks, and nothing more. If you believe in a god whose will is supreme, asking him to do your will (basically any prayer that goes beyond giving thanks) is insulting and prideful.

  • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

    Prayer is prayer and it has no place in government, period.

  • NewDawn2006

    Is anyone else reading the comments and enjoying the repeated displays of bigotry and Antisemitism… To quote some of my favorites:
    “The god of the Jews and their religion, Judaism, is Lucifer.”
    ” They’ll be converted into stubble, just as the Bible predicts!!!”
    “Jew and Gentile are two worlds, between you Gentiles and us Jews there lies an unbridgeable gulf”

    • allein

      I guess they don’t realize Jesus was a Jew…?

    • The Captain

      My absolute favorite is this gem. “To bad so sad…He the Messiah for the jews too..”

      But yea, the rest all sound like the came from Stormfront.

  • Seamus Ruah

    …and it’s gone. The story that is, but not the link from their front page.
    /Interesting.

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

    Not long ago, I got into a discussion about starting public meetings with prayer. A friend contended that while it was good to be inclusive, no prayer at all was bad because then ‘the atheists win.’ Um… not really. A ‘win’ for atheists would be if the chairperson opened with, “Before we get started, I’d just like us all to take a moment to acknowledge that there are no gods.” Anything less than that is just remaining neutral.

    • Ann Onymous

      THANK YOU. A lot of Christians seem to think that it’s religion OR atheism, with no secularism in between.

  • David McNerney

    “I hear your concern but I can’t tell someone how to pray.”

    So close to figuring out the whole point of secularism…. yet so far.

  • AxeGrrl

    What IS it with some Christians’ obsession with making everyone around them participate in their particular shenanigans?

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked a Christian: “do you acknowledge/accept that no one should be held to someone else’s beliefs?” and been met with no response……..that or transparent sidestepping accompanied by anger when I point out that they’ve avoided answering this very simple question.

    And they wonder why they sometimes seem scary to the rest of us.

  • JKPS

    At one point, the speaker said to Waldman “I hear your concern but I can’t tell someone how to pray.”

    —–

    What the hell kind of response is that?


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