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Lawmaker offended by morning prayers in Weatherford's House

Friday’s morning House Session opened as it usually does. A religious leader invited by a House member offers a prayer for guidance to the lawmakers. And as usually happens, the reverend, invited on Friday by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, concluded “we ask these things in the name, and through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy son and savior, amen.”

But that final invocation of Jesus Christ is a growing concern for Jewish members, according to Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.

Minutes before session began, Waldman, who is Jewish, met with Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, a conservative Christian, and told him that some Jewish members were offended.

“This year more so than others, every time the prayer comes up, it’s in Jesus’ name,” Waldman told Weatherford. “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.”

 

Weatherford replied that the prayers are optional and reflect the faith of the members.

“Prayers are all chosen by the members, and so every member, Republican and Democrat, has an opportunity to pick a person to come on their behalf,” Weatherford said. “We had a rabbi last week who didn’t pray in Jesus’ name...we don’t choose the prayers for them. And we also make the prayers optional. We don’t actually put people on the boards to record their presence until after the prayers. You and I have talked about it, I hear your concern but I can’t tell someone how to pray.”

“Well, you can actually,” Waldman replied. “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.”

“We hear you,” Weatherford said. “We hear you. Ok.”

The form speakers are given by the House chaplain actually only suggest that the name of whatever gods one worships are named.

“Religious sectarianism at public events is not only a breach of etiquette, but represents insensitivity to the faith of others,” the form states. “In opening and closing the prayer, the leader should be especially sensitive to expressions that may be suitable to members of some faiths.”

But Waldman said that hasn’t happened this session.

“We either pray in the name of Jesus, or there are statements about the father the son and the holy spirit, it’s just not non-denominational,” Waldman said. “I don’t care if it’s optional. That shouldn’t be the litmus test. It should be inclusive.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 1983 decision that allowed Congress and state legislatures to open in prayer. But what is stated in the prayer the ruling didn’t specify, leaving it pretty much to individual governing bodies or states to decide.

In Indiana, for instance, a federal district ruled in 2005 that prayers in the Indiana House of Representative couldn’t mention Jesus or any other specific deity. Yet in Georgia, a federal district judge ruled Cobb County commission meetings could have sectarian prayer.

Waldman said the in Florida, the issue seems to have already been decided.

“Some lawmakers don’t go until after the prayer,” Waldman said. “I go in because I want to be prepared and ready to go. But I stand there and all I do is wait there for what we politely call, ‘The JC moment.’ All the members know, they look at me and say, ‘Got JC’d again.’”

“They would be extremely offended if at the end of the prayer they would say, in Allah’s name we pray,” Waldman said.

Comments

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Peter

Weatherford is the opposite of what Jesus would do. He is a filthy little creep who is more evil than godly.

whasup

Peter and Waldman, I am little more offended by the fact that we have a Governor in office who made his fortune under Medicare fraud.

harry Houdini

Waldman's tactics are not well thought out. No prayer should be offensive to anyone. He needs to convey his message to the Speaker in a much more thought out manner and actually think about what he is saying as a JEW. Ending the prayer in the name of Jesus maybe non-inclusive and insensitive to others but it is NOT offensive. Wrong word! Wrong impression.....

The Truth Shall Set You Free

I look forward to the day when we as a species move beyond the complete waste of time and money that is bestowed on religious topics. If we channeled those resources instead into cancer research millions of children in America might have their parents rather than the hollow and unconvincing comfort of religious myths.

Dianne Hillestad

OFFENDED? THAT'S JUST TOO BAD! JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE! What happened to "tolerance" & freedom of speech? There is NO RIGHT to NOT be offended. These lawmakers need to suck it up & be grownups. The thing about deception: you are deceived.

Seth Platt

I remember When Dan Webster was Speaker he had a lunch for all Broward County aides, most of whom were Jewish, He gave a prayer before eating in which he also invoked in Jesus Name We Pray. It was inappropriate then and now. I agree with Waldman on this one.

Can't take anymore

The Holy Joes run the legislature. This is ironic since most of them are hypocritical horse thieves who have virtually no ethics.

karlmcguie

Mr. Weatherford,
Your next breath of life ....thank Jesus for it...remember what God did to Paul?

FPultro

True inclusivity would be allowing those who pray to do so in whatever way their faith encourages. Those listening would then get a better education/understanding of what people of different faiths believe, directly from the proverbial horse's mouth.

Laws that dictate the content of prayers is exactly what we don't want; government-directed/sanctioned/created religion.

Mike

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” -Luke 19:39

Mark Matthias

This sort of thing is not easy. Paul didn't hesitate to became all things to all men for the gospel's sake. We are required to possess the love illustrated by 1 Corinthians chapter 13. There is a protocol for being a Christian. The, "Too bad!" attitude does not represent Christ at all. To whom should we be nice? If everyone were "nice" we wouldn't have a ministry.

Sivles

Seem when the dims are in majority, they do what the hell they want to. When the other way around they whine and cry about it.
Buck up big boys, Christians are the majority, and even then everyone gets a chance to have their prayers said. Guess the jews think because they don't believe in Jesus, then it's inappropriate to mention his name. That is absolutely wrong. Christians are very tolerant of other religions, but the tolerance is in only direction. Shame! Perhaps the whiner could just sit it out if he doesn't agree. Bet he's from nu yoik....

Martin

I'm not sure where you grew up, sir, but this is America, and we have freedom of speech. This means that frequently you may encounter people who believe differently than you.

If this is an environment that you cannot handle, maybe you're not you mature enough to live in a free country.

Liberty4Ever

Not very TOLERANT of the Jewish twerp! This is a CHRISTIAN nation and any other religion that has come here and THEN finds it offensive needs to take the next boat back to their country of origin and stop bothering us Christians.

Get it?? THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION TOO BAD IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT!!!!!!!!!!

William

Typical politician, it is all about him.

William

Perhaps he should read the new book, "The Constitution and What it Means" by William James.

John C

Diane, it is only we Christians who a required to be "tolerant", ironically by the same hypocritical people who always run around demanding tolerance.

Ann

There is power in Jesus name. That is why it is so offensive to people. He is a rock of offense

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