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Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Indiana's legislators press for sectarian prayers

Appeals court strikes down ban on sectarian prayer in House chamber

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals lifts injunction against sectarian prayer

Appeals panel says plaintiffs lack standing to stop prayers to Jesus during government sessions

By, November 3, 2007

Citing the recent Supreme Court decision that taxpayers without a personal financial stake do not have standing to sue the government for Establishment Clause violations, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted an injunction on sectarian prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives. Two of the three appellate judges who heard the case said that, following that Supreme Court decision known as Hein, they were bound to determine that the individual taxpayers who sued to stop the practice did not have a monetary interest in the prayers and thus did not have standing.

The taxpayers filed suit after the 2005 legislative session, in which at least 29 of 45 invocations at the opening of House business referenced “Jesus” or “Christ.”

The Chicago based court did not rule on whether the Indiana legislature's sectarian prayers constituted a government establishment of religion. Nevertheless, the American Jewish Committee called the decision "extremely alarming."

Commenting on the appeals court's decision, Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and author of American Words of Freedom, said it "reveals the dangerous impact of the US Supreme Court's ruling limiting the ability of people to challenge violations of the separation of church and state.

"Is there any doubt," continued Rohde, "that having elected officials begin their legislative work with such blatantly religious prayers is a direct violation of the First Amendment? Of course not. Yet, unable to defend such infringements on the merits, the Supreme Court and now the Seventh Circuit, have used the doctrine of 'standing' to prevent any challenge from even being made. Since the people seeking to defend separation of church and state could cite no personal financial injury, these courts have found that they have no 'standing' to bring the challenges in the first place.

Madison and Jefferson are surely turning in their graves," Rohde concluded. "If anyone doubts why future appointments to the Supreme Court are so important, take heed of this travesty of our Constitution."

ACLU might go back to court
The case was filed when Republicans controlled the House and the Republican speaker, Brian Bosma was a key instigator of the prayers. He hired outside lawyers to fight the lawsuit.

Earlier, in a discussion with Jewish leaders who were advocating an end to sectarian prayers, Bosma demanded: "How many Jews are there in Indiana? About two percent?" (More here.)

Democrats won control of the chamber in November 2006 and their speaker, B. Patrick Bauer, continued defending the lawsuit. Last week he issued a statement welcoming the court's decision and said he would ask the state's attorney general to work out its "ramifications."

Bauer was not available to respond to our question about how he'll deal with Jews' objections to sectarian Christian prayers. A media representative for the House Democrats told JewsOnFirst that Bauer has always "been respectful" of the sensibilities of religious minorities.

The attorney for the ACLU of Indiana, which represented the plaintiffs, did not respond to a message requesting comment, but was quoted by local papers last week indicating that he might request a rehearing by the entire 7th Circuit. He also said that, should the sectarian prayers resume, the ACLU would go back to court.

Court overturns ban on Indiana House prayer

Bill Ruthhart, Indianapolis Star, October 31, 2007

Sectarian prayers, including those to Jesus Christ, could return to the front of the Indiana House chamber after a court ruling Tuesday, but opponents warned of a legal challenge if that happens.

The ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a defeat for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, overturned a lower court’s decision that sectarian prayers on the floor of the House violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

But Tuesday’s decision didn’t center on whether the prayers should be allowed. It focused more narrowly on whether the plaintiffs, a group of four taxpayers, had the legal standing to sue. Continue.

House prayer ban falls on appeal
Court finds plantiffs have no legal right to sue

Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette (Lafayette, Indiana), October 31, 2007

Indianapolis – The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that Hoosier taxpayers have no standing to challenge the content of prayer given in the Indiana House chamber, a move that effectively ends restrictions that have been in place since 2005.

The decision remands the case with orders to dismiss it for lack of jurisdiction, though it can be appealed.

The court did not rule on the merits of the case – whether prayers offered at the podium to open legislation session can be sectarian or favor one religion. Continue.

Appeals court orders prayer suit dismissed

Deanna Martin, Associated Press, Journal-Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), October 30, 2007

Indianapolis - A federal appeals court has ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging sectarian prayers being given during sessions of the state House of Representatives.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a ruling today that a group of taxpayers who sued did not have legal standing to do so.

The 2-1 ruling overturned a federal judge's decision that banned the practice of opening the chamber's business with sectarian prayers. U.S. District Judge David Hamilton ruled in November 2005 that prayers mentioning Jesus Christ or using terms such as savior amounted to state endorsement of a religion. Continue.

7th Circuit Holds Taxpayers Lack Standing To Challenge Indiana Legislative Prayer

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause Blog, October 31, 2007

Friedman's link-rich summary provides a cogent explanation of the legal context of the appeals court's action. Please click here.

Text of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on prayer in the Indiana Legislature

Ruling issued October 30, 2007

Nos. 05-4604 & 05-4781

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 05 C 813—David F. Hamilton, Judge.

ARGUED SEPTEMBER 7, 2006—DECIDED OCTOBER 30, 2007 before RIPPLE, KANNE and WOOD, Circuit Judges. RIPPLE, Circuit Judge. Four Indiana taxpayers, Anthony Hinrichs, Henry Gerner, Lynette Herold and Francis White Quigley, brought this action against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Indiana General Assembly, challenging the House’s practice of opening each session with a prayer. The district court agreed with the plaintiffs that the practice of legislative prayer as implemented by the House violated the Establishment Clause and issued a permanent injunction. The Speaker timely appealed and sought a stay of the district court’s ruling pending full briefing before this court. We denied the stay but noted that our decision was based only on a preliminary understanding of the facts surrounding Indiana’s practice. See Hinrichs v. Bosma, 440 F.3d 393 (7th Cir. 2006). After briefing, oral argument and supplemental briefing, we now hold that the plaintiffs do not have standing to maintain this action. We therefore reverse the district court’s judgment and remand the action with instructions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction. Continue.

Indiana House Speaker reacts to Indiana House prayer ruling

News release (full text), B. Patrick Bauer, speaker of the Indiana House, October 30, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a U.S. District Court challenge to the House’s practice of opening each session with a prayer:

“While we do need more time with the Indiana Attorney General and the House staff counsel to examine all the ramifications of today’s decision, I am delighted that the court has left alone a tradition that has been a part of House proceedings for nearly 190 years.

“When I became Speaker of the House in November 2006, I vowed to return prayer to the front of the House chamber, and we did.

“When the House reconvenes for Organization Day on November 20, we will begin our session with a prayer.

“I thank the Attorney General for his cooperation and counsel in this matter.”

Click here to see Bauer's statement on the legislature's website.

Indiana Court Decision on Legislative Prayer Disappoints American Jewish Committee

News release, American Jewish Committee, October 30, 2007

NEW YORK, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee is disappointed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision to dismiss a taxpayer challenge to the constitutionality of the legislative prayer practice in Indiana's House of Representatives.

"Today's Seventh Circuit decision is extremely alarming because it denies taxpayers the right to challenge a legislative act that in practice gives preferential access to Christian clergy in determining who shall present a daily legislative prayer," said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC's general counsel.

"The Seventh Circuit today has overextended the narrow decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Hein," Sinensky said. Continue.

Conservative rulings have groups rethinking advocacy strategy
Following the close of this year's Supreme Court term, Jewish groups are wondering whether or not their legal strategy is off kilter.

By Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 2, 2007

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Following a string of conservative rulings in the closing weeks of this year's Supreme Court session, some Jewish officials are suggesting that they may be forced to abandon their decades-long strategy of relying on the courts to protect liberal gains on a host of issues. For decades many Jewish groups counted on the top court to correct what they saw as the excesses of legislatures and chief executives across the country. But with the close of the court's first full term with two recent conservative arrivals, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, Jewish groups say the situation has reversed itself. Continue.

Court Overturns Ban on Prayer in Jesus' Name, Skirts Constitution Question

By Lawrence Jones, Christian Post, November 3, 2007

An appeals court has overturned a ban on prayers mentioning Jesus’ name in the Indiana House chamber but gave no opinion on the constitutionality of sectarian prayers.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s decision court banning prayers given in the name of Jesus in the Indiana legislature but centered the decision on a technicality instead of answering whether sectarian prayers on the floor of the House violated the constitutional separation of church and state — an issue of main concern for many following the case.

The court ruled against the plaintiffs because they failed to establish how their tax dollars directly tied to the prayers and thereby had no legal standing to sue. Continue.

Appeals court lifts ban on praying in Jesus' name

by Michael Foust, Baptist Press, October 31, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--An appeals court panel apparently has given the OK for prayers mentioning Jesus' name in the Indiana state legislature to return, tossing out a lawsuit Oct. 30 that had garnered national attention two years ago when the prayers were ruled unconstitutional.

The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for social conservatives, although the justices avoided dealing directly with whether the prayers violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as the lower court had ruled.

Instead, the majority ruled that the four Indiana residents who brought the lawsuit lacked standing because they had "not shown that the legislature has extracted from them tax dollars for the establishment and implantation" of a program that supposedly violates the Establishment Clause. Continue.

Federal appeals court upholds Indiana General Assembly pre-session prayers

Allie Martin,, November 2, 2007

A federal appeals court has upheld the Indiana General Assembly's longstanding tradition of pre-session prayers.

Earlier, a district court had ruled that the General Assembly must censor sectarian language from prayers, including use of the name or title of Christ. The legislature was then required to review proposed prayers and censor any questionable content. But the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, saying, in effect, that the plaintiffs did not have "standing" -- or the right to begin the lawsuit. Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver says that principle goes back to a recent Supreme Court ruling.

"You can no longer just walk into court and claim that you're a taxpayer and that you're offended by some governmental expression of God or religion, that happens to be a part of the legislative branch, and expect that you're going to have your day in court," he explains. "This case dismissed that case because they did not have what's called 'standing.'" Continue.

New Democratic speaker will bring back sectarian prayer if court allows

Indiana House Democratic leader wants sectarian prayer in chamber

by, January 16, 2007

When Democrats won control of the Indiana House in November, there was a glimmer of possibility that they would drop the outgoing Republicans' appeal of a judge's ruling barring sectarian prayers during official House business (see below). But last week, Speaker B. Patrick Bauer said that he will return sectarian prayer to the "front of the House" if the legislature prevails in the case, according to a Fort Wayne newspaper.

Kenneth Falk, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told JewsOnFirst, that it is his understanding that Bauer will continue his Republican predecessor's appeal. "He has not taken any action to dismiss it," Falk said.

The ACLU sued to stop the Republicans' practice of sectarian prayers. Those prayers were predominantly Christian and sometimes involved proselytizing, according to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

A federal district judge halted the prayers in December 2005. The Republican speaker appealed the ruling and the Bush administration joined the case on the speaker's side. (More here.)

When the court heard arguments in the case last fall, said Falk, "it was clear that the judges were cognizant, if not concerned, that their decision might affect prayer practice in Congress."

The decision could be announced at any time. If the court reverses the district judge's ruling, Falk said he would consult his clients -- private citizens -- about an appeal.

In November the Democrats' spokesman told JewsOnFirst that Bauer was aware of the Jewish community's objection to the sectarian prayers. (see below) Today the spokesman did not return a call requesting comment.

A year ago, in a discussion with Jewish leaders who were advocating an end to sectarian prayers, then Speaker Brian Bosma retorted "How many Jews are there in Indiana? About two percent?" (More here.)

Indiana House begins session with prayer from podium

By Mike Smith, The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne), January 8, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana House began the 2007 session on Monday with an official prayer, one designed to comply with a federal judge's ruling barring sectarian invocations as part of legislative business.

The brief prayer by new House Speaker Patrick Bauer was directed to "almighty God" but contained no specific references to Christianity. Continue.

Prayer returns to House
Bauer says scripted prayer is 'interim measure.'

By Cory Havens, The South Bend Tribune, January 9, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- Speaker of the House B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, began Monday's opening session of the Indiana House of Representatives for 2007 with a prayer.

Whether the legislative body may engage in formal prayer, particularly sectarian prayer, without violating the constitutional separation of church and state is the subject of a federal lawsuit.

The court ruled in 2005 that the House could not formally pray if it invoked a particular religious faith over others. Then-Speaker Brian C. Bosma, R-Indianapolis, appealed the ruling, and a panel of federal judges is expected to rule soon on the matter. Continue.

Bauer unsure if prayer will return

By Mary Beth Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, January 7, 2007

When the Indiana House is gaveled into session at 1 p.m. Monday, a question will finally be answered: Will lawmakers resume their official prayer?

House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Friday that he had not decided whether the House will open with a prayer, as it did for 189 years. Continue.

November 2006 elections change speaker, not prayer policy

Incoming Democratic speaker of Indiana House also wants official prayer
Spokesman tells JewsOnFirst that Patrick Bauer may drop Bosma appeal because of cost

by, November 8, 2006

The federal appeal of a ruling barring sectarian prayer during legislative business was one of the first issues that B. Patrick Bauer, the newly minted Democratic Speaker of the Indiana House, was asked to address.

"The cost factor is weighing heavily" in Bauer's considerations of whether to pursue the case, his spokesman told JewsOnFirst. The appeal has already cost $100,000 in taxpayer said John Schorg, media reliations director for the Indiana House Democrats.

The appeal (see below on this page) was filed on behalf of the Speaker of the House, rather than outgoing Republican speaker Brian Bosma, said Schorg.

Schorg said that nothing was being discussed in great detail so soon after the election. But, he told JewsOnFirst, Bauer has "made remarks that he would like to move [the prayer] to the front of the chamber." After a federal judge ordered a halt to Bosma's practice of inviting clergy to open House sessions with sectarian (mostly evangelical Christian) prayers, legislators started convening opening prayers at the rear of the chamber.

Asked about Bauer's position on Indiana Jewish groups' opposition to the prayer policy, Schorg said, the new speaker has not yet said anything specific, but is aware of Jewish objections to the sectarian prayers, as well as those of the individuals who filed the law suit.

"This blew up with Bosma," he said, referring to the outgoing speaker's remarks that Jews were an insignifcantly small minority, for which he was forced to apologize.

Indiana House Speaker who disparaged Jews has Jewish challenger

Last year, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, who is leading a legal effort to permit sectarian prayers during the legislature's official business, rebuffed Jewish protests of his prayer policy (see below). He dismissed Jewish concerns because, he said, Jews only constitute two percent of the state's population. Now Bosma's Democratic challenger, Susan Fuldauer, is Jewish, and, points out blogger David Honig, if Fuldauer wins and the House's only Jew is reelected, then Jews will make up two percent of the legislature as well. Click here to read Honig's complete posting in The Daily Pulse.

G.O.P. Collapse in Indiana Emblematic of Larger Loss

By Adam Nossiter, New York Times, November 12, 2006

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Nov. 10 - As he campaigned for re-election, the Republican who lost his seat in the House of Representatives here on Tuesday threw several incendiary barbs suggesting that the opposition was beyond the mainstream of these placid southern Indiana environs: "Homosexual agenda"; "San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi"; "New York liberal Charlie Rangel"; "Detroit liberal John Conyers."

The attack backfired, and the Republican incumbent, John Hostettler, lost, as did two other incumbent Indiana Republicans in what proved to be a crucial state for Democrats in winning the House.

The mechanics of those defeats offer insights into the larger loss, and point to traps that Republican candidates appeared to have unwittingly entered: In all three cases, to demonstrate being a Washington insider was to court doom, no matter how much the incumbents railed against the ways of the capital. Continue.

Appeals court hears arguments on House Speaker's appeal of federal court ban on sectarian prayer

Background, September 13, 2006. The Bush administration's Justice Department has joined the speaker of the Indiana House in appealing a ruling barring sectarian prayers during the chamber's official business. A federal appeals court in Chicago heard arguments in the case last week. The ACLU of Indiana is representing several state residents who sued to stop House Speaker Brian Bosma's practice of starting official business with prayers by clergy who often invoked Jesus and sometimes evangelized.

Earlier in the case, Bosma rebuffed leaders of the state's Jewish community when they came to protest his support of the prayer policy. How small a percentage of Indiana's population were the Jews, Bosma famously demanded.

So far, the taxpayers have funded Bosma's appeal -- to the tune of $100,000. According to one report, backers of the sectarian prayer policy will launch a fundraising drive to finance the case, which Bosma foresees going to the Supreme Court.

Judges shy away from prayer ban
Panel hears Bosma's challenge to ruling that halted overtly Christian invocations

By Theodore Kim, The Indianapolis Star, September 8, 2006

CHICAGO -- The federal appeals court panel hearing the Indiana House speaker's challenge to a ban on sectarian prayer in the legislature expressed reluctance to set a new precedent.

Judge Michael S. Kanne said Thursday that upholding the ban could "change the way that Congress operates," because federal lawmakers begin their sessions with prayers. Continue.

Court hears fight on House prayer
Appeal result could have ripples

By Mike Smith, The Journal Gazette, (Fort Wayne, Indiana), September 8, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS Indiana’s battle over prayer in the state House of Representatives headed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday in a case House Speaker Brian Bosma and one judge say could have national ramifications.

The U.S. Department of Justice and lawyers for Bosma urged a three-judge panel in Chicago to overturn a lower court ruling prohibiting the House from opening its daily business with sectarian prayers. Continue.

Prayer fray heads back into court
House appeals federal ruling

By Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette, (Fort Wayne, Indiana), September 6, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS The fight over prayer in the Indiana House goes before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Thursday.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma is hoping the three-judge panel overturns a federal judge’s decision restricting prayers offered from the podium of the Indiana House. Continue.

Donations sought to appeal prayer case

By Mary Beth Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, September 5, 2006

The Indiana House of Representatives will soon start raising money to help pay for the cost of appealing a federal judge's decision barring prayers specific to any particular religion, including Christianity, in the legislature.

A federal appeals court panel of three appellate judges will hear arguments on that case at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Chicago.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said that a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, Winston & Strawn, will present the lawmakers' arguments in that hearing. So far, he said, the legal bills have come to about $67,000, but that does not include any of the work preparing for Thursday's hearing. Continue.

House leader appeals judge's ban on sectarian prayer

Indiana House Speaker Bosma files appeal brief
Document sidesteps concept of pluralism

by, May 18, 2006

Republican Speaker of the Indiana House Brian Bosma filed a brief in his appeal of a federal district judge's ruling barring prayers to Jesus during the chamber's official business. Although Bosma was recently forced to apologize for dismissing Indiana's Jews as an insignificant minority, his brief does not show concern for minority sensibilities. The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to stop the sectarian prayers, must now respond to Bosma's brief. Continue

Bosma appeals prayer ruling
He wants ban on religious content to be overturned

By Bill Ruthhart, The Indianapolis Star, May 13, 2006

Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma has filed his appeal of a federal court ruling barring sectarian prayers during Indiana House proceedings. Bosma's brief, filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, argues that the courts cannot judge which prayers are and are not permissible. Bosma is using a private law firm as well as the state Attorney General for the appeal. He said it might be paid for with taxpayer dollars. Continue

Speaker Bosma Files Appeal with Seventh Circuit Court on Prayer Lawsuit

News Release, Indiana House Republican Caucus, May 12, 2006

(Statehouse) Friday, May 12, 2006 – Indiana Speaker of the House Brian C. Bosma has filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7 th Circuit in Chicago on a ruling that censors the name of Jesus Christ from prayers opening each legislative session day of the Indiana House of Representatives. Speaker Bosma has promised to vigorously defend the 188 year tradition of inclusive, open legislative prayer in the Indiana House. Continue

Amrican Jewish Committee Brief Opposes Sectarian Prayer in Indiana State Legislature

News Release, American Jewish Committee, June 14, 2006

The American Jewish Committee, in coalition with the Anti-Defamation League and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, has filed an amicus brief with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the Hinrichs v. Bosma case. Bosma is appealing a lower court ruling barring sectarian prayers to open official legislative business. Continue

Brief For The Defendant-Appellant Brian Bosma

May 10, 2006

To read Speaker Bosma's brief , a PDF document, please click here

Bid to lift prayer ban in House fails

By Richard D. Walton, (Indianapolis), March 2, 2006

A federal appeals court refused the Indiana House speaker's motion to stay an order banning sectarian prayer in the Indiana House of Representatives while the appeal is heard. House Speaker Brian Bosma said he expected the ruling and does not expect to get "relief" until the case reaches the Supreme Court. Click here to read the report.

Liberty Counsel Files in Indiana Case, Says Legislative Prayer Part of History

Allie Martin, Agape Press, April 20, 2006

Liberty Counsel, a religious right legal group, filed an amicus brief with the federal appeals court considering the Indiana House Speaker's appeal of a ruling forbidding sectarian prayers from the legislative dais. Liberty's theory is that there is a 188-year-old tradition of prayer in the Indiana State Legislature predating the First Amendment. Click here

Indiana House Speaker appeals order to stop sectarian prayers


January 25, 2006. Indiana legislators, led by House Speaker Brian Bosma, have appealed a federal judge's order to stop allowing sectarian prayers during legislative sessions. Speaker Bosma also asked District Judge David Hamilton to stay his order during the appeal, filed January 24th, but the judge refused, said Kenneth Falk, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in an interview with Click here to read the report.

House Speaker Bosma disparages state's Jewish minority

Indiana Speaker alarms Jewish leaders by disparaging their numbers
Discussion of prayer issue provokes disturbing comment

By, February 23, 2006

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican who is leading an aggressive effort to present sectarian prayers as part of the chamber's official business (see other articles in this section), alarmed Jewish leaders who met with him during a lobby day when, during a discussion of the prayer issue, he asked them how much of Indiana's population Jews comprised.

Rabbi Jon Adland of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, who was present at the meeting wrote in an email to his congregation that, "for the first time in my life as a citizen of this country, I was scared." Bosma's implication, wrote Adland "was that our minority community doesn't and shouldn't have any say or any voice."

Blogger David Honig, a member of Adland's congregation, posted the rabbi's email and has been credited with prompting Bosma to apologize.

JewsOnFirst was surprised when the Jewish Community Relations Council in Indiana refused to discuss the story. Please click here for our report.

Bosma Apologizes to Jewish Leaders for Comments

By Jim Shella, WISH-TV Television Broadcasting (Indianapolis, Indiana), February 20, 2006

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, who has been leading a campaign to have sectarian prayers during chamber business, apologized to Jewish leaders for asking -- during a discussion of the prayer issue -- how much of the state's population Jews represented. Bosma reminded them that Christians comprised at least 80% of the population. Bosma subsequently apologized, but not before remarking: "I asked the group what percentage of the population in Indiana for demographic purposes was of Jewish tradition and faith and it was them who provided me with the two percent." Click here to read the report.

Sodrel: Prayer measure fights 'judicial activism'

By Bill Ruthhart, Indianapolis Star, February 22, 2006

"U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Ind., said Tuesday he is confident Congress would vote to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over the content of speech in state legislatures. Sodrel introduced a bill last week that would do just that after U.S. District Judge David Hamilton's ruling in November that banned prayers during Indiana House proceedings from mentioning Jesus Christ or endorsing any particular religion." Click here to read the report.

Indiana electeds resist order to stop sectarian prayer

Congress need not set courts' dockets for them
Rep. Sodrel's bill is out of order

Editorial, Chronicle-Tribune (Grant County, Indiana), February 28, 2006

"Sodrel's bill is an attempt by the legislative branch to tell the judicial branch that it wants to be immune from judicial review." Click here to read the report.

To Pray or Not to Pray...

Family Research Council, January 4, 2006

"As the Indiana House of Representatives opens its 2006 session tomorrow, the first question facing lawmakers is to pray or not to pray in the name of Jesus. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge David Hamilton reaffirmed his November ruling that praying in the name of Jesus violated the high court's concoction of the 'separation of church and state.'" Click here to read the posting.

It's a prayer, it's a protest
Following a plan carefully crafted, lawmakers bow heads before opening gavel

By Robert King and Bill Ruthhart, Indianapolis Star, January 5, 2006

"Republican House leaders made it clear Wednesday they don't agree with a judge's ban on prayers that invoke the name of Jesus Christ during their proceedings.

"But, led by House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, they decided to forgo the 189-year tradition of invocations -- at least for now -- and opted instead to have a free-spirited prayer huddle in the back of the House chamber minutes before the opening gavel. "'We're taking a stand. We're making a statement,' Bosma said. 'But within the bounds of the court order.'

"Two other prayer sessions were held in the Statehouse Rotunda, led by citizens supportive of keeping prayer in the House." Click here to read the report.

Private prayers open session
Bosma renews vow to fight judge's limits in House

By Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana), January 5, 2006

"INDIANAPOLIS - Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma ended the tradition of opening the legislative session with an official prayer Wednesday - instead opting for a small, informal gathering of lawmakers praying beforehand in the back of the chamber.

"The change comes after a federal court ruling in November limiting the prayer that can be offered to nonsectarian invocations that don't proselytize or mention Jesus' name." Click here to read the report.

Judge rules sectarian prayers out of order

Judge Upholds Prayer Limits in Ind. State House
Some in Both Parties Vow to Fight Ruling

By Peter Slevin, The Washington Post, January 1, 2006

US District Judge David F. Hamilton, son and grandson of Methodist ministers, let it be known that he will take steps to enforce his ruling, should legislators defy it. Click here to read the report.

COLLECTION: Judge rules Indiana House must stop sectarian prayers
Governor, editorial many clergy decry ruling ending praying in Jesus' name; appeal planned

Indianapolis Star, December 1, 2 and 3, 2005; Baptist Press, December 15, 2005

On November 30th, a federal judge ruled that those giving the daily invocation be instructed that it must not advance a particular faith or be aimed at converting listeners. The reports and editorial here detail the wide outcry against the ruling, including a hint at defiance by the House speaker, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, which was brought by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four citizens. Rabbi Jon Adland of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, who filed an affidavit in support of the civil liberties union, praised the decision. On December 14, the House speaker announced that the state attorney general would appeal.

The Judge's ruling noted that at least 29 of the 53 prayers offered in the House's 2005 session were offered in the name of Jesus, the Savior and/or the Son. One prayer quoted in the decision stated: "We look forward to the day when all nations and all people of the earth will have the opportunity to hear and respond to messages of love of the Almighty God who has revealed Himself in the saving power of Jesus Christ." Click here to read the coverage of the Indiana ruling.