Prayer Returns to Senate Chambers

Published: January 30, 2007 | 5435th good news item since 2003

“Dear God, we call upon You to be with each of the Indiana Senators.”

With those words from Sen. Dennis Kruse, more than a year of court-ordered silence was broken here Monday as prayer returned to the Senate chambers. It was the first verbally-offered prayer by senators since the end of the 2005 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

For more than a year, Senate sessions had begun with a reference to a U.S. District Court Order and a moment of silence. The Nov. 30, 2005 order from Southern District Judge David Hamilton mandated that prayers “should not use Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal.”

While the House of Representatives has rotated three short, legally approved prayers at the beginning of its sessions since the beginning of the 2007 session, the Senate had, first under former President Pro-Tem Robert Garton and now under his successor, Sen. David Long, been observing moments of silence.

Kruse (R-Auburn) said he was happy to be the first to break that silence.

“I felt it was better to have a prayer to God than to have no prayer at all,” Kruse said afterwards. “From a Christian standpoint, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one anyhow.”

Kruse said he prepared the prayer he gave himself. He added that plans call for prayer duties to be rotated among the Senate members. Unlike the House and its legally-prepared rotating prayers, the Senate prayers will be different each day, yet strictly adhering to the judges’ order.

Kruse is one of six senators now assigned prayer duty. The others are Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Gary Dillon (R-Columbia City), Sen. Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Bob Jackman (R-Milroy) and Sen. Marvin Riegsecker (R-Goshen).

“These prayers will all be prepared and written by each individual senator and comply with the court order,” Sen. Long said. “I want to make it very clear, however, that I vehemently disagree with the judge’s order and I fully expect his order will be overturned by the Court of Appeals.”

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