Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pa. House prayer rejected over 'Jesus'

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Three weeks ago, a Christian clergyman from Adams County was surprised and upset when state House officials wouldn't let him open a session with a prayer that contained what they termed an "offensive" word -- the name of Jesus.

He planned to end his prayer with "In Jesus' name, Amen." Now the Rev. Gerry Stoltzfoos of the Freedom Valley Worship Center in Gettysburg is hoping for a different result next week, when he opens a state Senate session with a prayer.

State House officials said they didn't err when they asked the pastor to alter his invocation due to a brief, quickly repealed policy of vetting prayers.

But as word about the incident spreads in and out of the Legislature, they are hearing increasing numbers of complaints, online criticism and even threats of lawsuits, which is bogging down the already complicated process of enacting an overdue state budget.

The Rev. Stoltzfoos said he didn't really want to open the House session but agreed to pray as a favor to a member of his church, state Rep. Will Tallman, D-Adams.

"I reluctantly agreed because it always seemed to me that the prayer was more for show than that they really wanted to get guidance from God," the Assembly of God pastor said last week. "But I agreed for Mr. Tallman's sake because I respect him very much."

He said House Speaker Keith McCall's office asked him "to submit my prayer in writing and to make sure it was nondenominational. I wrote it out and sent it to them. They said my prayer was rejected because it contained an offensive word. Just once, in closing, I mentioned Jesus.

"I was incredibly surprised," he said. "I thought they were kidding. I had carefully crafted the prayer not to be offensive in any way."

More here-

No comments: