James Inhofe Filibusters Against Any Religion but His

In*tol*er*ant. adj. not tolerating or respecting beliefs, opinions, usages, manners, etc., different from one’s own, as in political or religious matters; bigoted (Random House Dictionary)

Publicity Hog James Inhofe Posing In Front of the CamerasSenator James Inhofe of Oklahoma has announced his intention to filibuster the confirmation of David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Why?

On November 30, 2005, as Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, David Hamilton ruled on a complaint, Hinrichs v. Bosma,made by four residents of Indiana about the state legislature of Indiana:

Four Indiana residents and taxpayers have sued the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Indiana General Assembly. They allege that most of the prayers the Speaker has permitted to open House sessions are sectarian Christian prayers, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Such prayers are deemed government speech for purposes of applying the Establishment Clause. Plaintiffs bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

…. To summarize, the evidence shows that the official prayers offered to open sessions of the Indiana House of Representatives repeatedly and consistently advance the beliefs that define the Christian religion: the resurrection and divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. The Establishment Clause “means at the very least that government may not demonstrate a preference for one particular sect or creed (including a preference for Christianity over other religions). ‘The clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.’” County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, 492 U.S. 573, 605 (1989), quoting Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 (1982). The sectarian content of the substantial majority of official prayers in the Indiana House therefore takes the prayers outside the safe harbor the Supreme Court recognized for inclusive, non-sectarian legislative prayers in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983). Plaintiffs have standing as Indiana taxpayers to bring their claims, and they are entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief. This relief will not prohibit the House from opening its session with prayers if it chooses to do so, but will require that any official prayers be inclusive and non-sectarian, and not advance one particular religion.

…. Fifty-three opening prayers were offered in the House during the 2005 legislative session. See Jt. Ex. 23. Forty-one of those invocations were delivered by clergy identified with Christian churches; nine were delivered by Representatives; and one each was delivered by a lay person, a Muslim imam, and a Jewish rabbi.

…. The substantial majority of prayers offered during the 2005 session were explicitly Christian in content. Several examples illustrate the point…. The prayer for March 28th included this prayer for worldwide conversion to Christianity: “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.” Id. at 12.

…. On April 5, 2005, Reverend Clarence Brown delivered the invocation.2 The prayer included the thanks: “Father we are so gracious [sic – grateful?] to You for Your grace and mercy that You have allowed us to be able to have and Father I thank You for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who died that we might have the right to come together in love. Father, let us love one another as he has loved us.” The prayer concluded: “I thank You in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” Id. at 13-14.
After the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, Speaker Bosma reintroduced Reverend Brown, saying: “I understand he has a wonderful voice and he is going to bless us with a song.” Reverend Brown proceeded to sing “Just a Little Talk with Jesus.” A number of the legislators, staff, and visitors present in the chamber stood, clapped, and sang along at the invitation of Reverend Brown. Jt. Stip. Facts (First) ¶ 21. This event prompted at least some members of the House
to walk out because they believed the sectarian religious display during the legislative session was inappropriate.

…. The prayer on April 29th was pervasively Christian in content: “Today on behalf of every man and woman under the sound of my voice, every representative present in this house of government of the great State of Indiana, I appeal to the God and Father of Jesus Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the whole earth, that He would find not only a welcome here, among those whom He has honored to allow to sit in this place of authority, but also hearing ears and perceptive and courageous hearts that would walk in the ways of righteousness, govern in the way of justice, and make right choices. . . . Let it be known today that it is required in leaders that a man be found faithful. That integrity is a requirement of a leader, and that every Representative is a leader before men and God. . . . As a minister of the gospel, I exercise my right to declare this room a hallowed place. I invite into this room, into the proceedings of the day, into the decisions that will [be] made today, to each person, the mighty Holy Spirit of God. Holy Spirit, give these here the mind of Christ . . . I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.”

…. After reviewing all available transcripts of prayers from the House sessions in 2005, the court finds that, the actual practice amounts on the whole to a clear endorsement of Christianity, sending the message to others that they are outsiders and the message to Christians that they are favored insiders. No other specific religious faith was endorsed or invoked. The only available transcript of a prayer led by anyone not professing the Christian faith, by a Muslim imam on March 8th, was inclusive and was not identifiable as distinctly Muslim from its content. No cleric or Representative has ever been admonished, corrected, or advised in any way about the religious content of the prayer that he or she delivered.

…. In this case, for the reasons set forth above, plaintiffs are entitled to a permanent injunction against the Speaker in his official capacity barring him from permitting sectarian prayer as part of the official proceedings of the Indiana House of Representatives. If the Speaker chooses to continue any form of legislative prayer, he shall advise persons offering such a prayer (a) that it must be nonsectarian and must not be used to proselytize or advance any one faith or belief or to disparage any other faith or belief, and (b) that they should refrain from using Christ’s name or title or any other denominational appeal. See Simpson v. Chesterfield County, 404 F.3d at 278-79, 284.

All parties in the case agreed that the prayers constituted government speech. James Inhofe has vowed to filibuster the judicial confirmation of David Hamilton because he stood against the overwhelming use of the Indiana legislature’s opening prayers to declare Indiana politics as subordinate to proselytizing Christianity.

In other words, Senator James Inhofe has vowed to keep anyone out of government who stands in the way of Christians using government to declare themselves, their religion and their deity in charge of government.

the*o*crat. noun. one who favors a theocratic form of government, government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

One Comment

on “James Inhofe Filibusters Against Any Religion but His
One Comment on “James Inhofe Filibusters Against Any Religion but His
  1. Pingback: Gordon Klingenschmitt Milks the Fundamentalist Cash Cow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *