A prayer offered by a Republican member of the Arizona state House of Representatives has offended a group of Democratic lawmakers who claim it was partisan, disrespectful and divisive.
The Arizona Republic reports Rep. Doug Quelland of Phoenix delivered the controversial prayer – which was based on one offered in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1996 – to open the House session Monday. It takes aim at multiculturalism, welfare, abortion and “alternative lifestyles.”
Rep. Wally Straughn of Phoenix led offended Democrats in filing an official protest.
Here is what the Republican lawmaker prayed:
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
“We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word and called it pluralism.
“We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
“We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
“We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
“We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
“We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
“We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
“We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
“We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
“We have abused power and called it political savvy.
“We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
“We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
“And we have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
“Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
“In the name of your son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Straughn subsequently protested: “Pursuant to House Rule 20, we, all the members of the House Democratic Caucus, protest the lack of respect that was shown the members of this body and the citizens of Arizona during the opening prayer on Jan. 26, 2004.
“The opening prayer is the one opportunity during each day that we can come together as a body. The opening prayer should unite us, not divide us.
“But the prayer on Jan. 26, 2004, was divisive. It was a pandering, mudslinging, name-calling political statement. It was hateful and mean-spirited. It was undignified.
“The citizens of Arizona deserve better. We are diverse. We have unique perspectives. And our unique voices should be respected. Especially during the opening prayer, as members of this body we must set aside our differences and show respect for Arizona in all of its diversity.”
Pastor Joe Wright of the Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kan., stirred similar controversy in 1996 when he gave the opening prayer at a session of the Kansas House of Representatives. Wright’s prayer has circulated on the Internet since that time.
As WorldNetDaily reported, last year, The Rev. George Dillard III of Peachtree City Christian Church near Atlanta served as guest chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, praying a similar prayer.
The Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the House chaplain, at the time said he “got feedback [from members] that [the prayer] was judgmental.”
In his prayer, Dillard asked God for “leaders who will seek your truth … who accept that a lie is a lie and not spin; that it is immorality and not an alternative lifestyle; that it is murder not a procedure; that it is stealing and not creative accounting; that rebellion is rebellion no matter what name we give it.”