The above incident captured on video in April in Hawaii has led to controversy and now a proposed cessation of all religious invocations at the state Senate.
We believe this is a sane and sound proposal. Right wing radical demagogue Michael Medved calls this decision by state legislators "insane".
Hawaii Senate may end religious invocationsThe Medved story follows:
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Senate leaders are recommending that the chamber end religious invocations before floor sessions.
The change is meant to respect each individual's religious beliefs, Senate President Shan Tsutsui, D-Wailuku-Kahului, said in Wednesday's editions of The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
"We respect everybody's different levels of faith and the different religions that they support," Tsutsui said. "We're not making any type of statement, but rather we're respecting each individual's religious beliefs."
The new policy is part of a proposed Senate rules package that will be considered before this year's legislative session begins Jan. 19.
The move away from religious invocations came after a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii that the invocations often included "decidedly Christian prayers — with reference to Jesus Christ."
The Senate formed a three-member committee last year to look into the invocation practice, which recommended allowing invocations as long as they are nonsectarian in nature, avoid references to particular political questions and sidestep mention of deities or central figures of particular religions.
But many senators felt it was better to do away with the invocations than to ask clergy to water down their messages or to avoid mentioning, for example, Jesus Christ or Mohammed in their prayers.
Other senators wanted to retain the invocations.
"I think it is a long, honored tradition at the state Capitol and at many other government events and functions," said state Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa-Ewa Beach-Lower Waipahu. "I would think that there would be a way for us to maintain that tradition."
The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1983 decision in Marsh vs. Chambers, ruled that prayers at the start of each legislative day are not a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court found that such prayers are deeply embedded in the history and tradition of the nation.
Still, the Honolulu City Council this month adopted a new rule allowing invocations that do not name any sectarian faith or proselytize.
And state House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, D-Aiea-Halawa, said the House is reviewing legal guidance from the state attorney general's office and might also make changes to its invocation policy.
Rev. John Heidel, president of the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii, told the Star-Advertiser there can be great benefit in the teachings of all religions and value to interfaith messages about public policy. But some clergy do not honor the separation between church and state, he said.
"Sometimes, some religious groups and clergy, in particular, don't respect that separation and try to use an invocation to manipulate public policy," Heidel added. "And that is definitely wrong. And so that is the danger, and that is why I would support this move to just get rid of it, because it's very difficult to handle and monitor."
Michael Medved: Hawaii Senate 'Insane' to Ban Invocation
Smart Business Hawaii
Michael Medved, the best-selling author and popular radio talk show host known for his conservative views, says "it's insane" for the Hawaii Senate to ban invocations from floor sessions.
Medved, in town to keynote a Smart Business Hawaii conference Wednesday at the Ala Moana Hotel, made the remarks after reading a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article that says senators will recommend the rule change next week "to avoid intruding on the separation between church and state."
The Senate's proposal follows a disruption by protestors who interrupted a Senate floor session invocation last April. The dramatic incident and the protestors' apprehension by sheriff's deputies was caught on video and sparked a lawsuit against the Senate.
"One idiot demonstrator who interrupts, gets arrested, sues and makes a fuss, and all of a sudden the state Legislature says you can't begin with an invocation?" Medved said. "The Supreme Court says you can do it, that it is not a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendement. It is normal and American to bow your head and praise God."
Medved, who is Jewish, says it is a "lie" that America was founded as a secular nation.
"It was founded as a secular government, but the founders believed only if we we remain a deeply Christian nation," he said. "Those who want to ban the invocation in the state Senate, they don't return to the vision of the founders."
Medved also said it was wrong for the media to blame "political rhetoric" and a "toxic environment" for the recent shootings in Arizona...