Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Bosma: Give Me Christian Prayer Or Give Me Death
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) announced today that he will fight by “all legal means” a federal district court order that the House of Representatives must confine its daily prayers to non-sectarian messages. “We will find a way to have prayer within the order in one fashion or another,” Bosma told the Indianapolis Star.
Bosma will take his challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if that’s what it takes. Procedurally, the Speaker, through Attorney General Steve Carter’s office, will ask Judge David Hamilton to reconsider his earlier ruling against sectarian prayers and, if necessary, appeal the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeal will not be resolved before the legislature reconvenes on January 4, 2006, and Bosma appeared to rule out defying Judge Hamilton’s order. “I’ve taken an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of this state and the United States 11 times, 10 as an elected official and one as a lawyer,” Bosma said. “Direct defiance of a federal judge’s order I don’t think would be a respectful means of an elected official showing that we are a nation of laws and not of men.”
Bosma’s decision to appeal the order, however, makes it clear just how much he is using this issue to play to the religious right for political purposes. Judge Hamilton’s order made it clear that the House was free to hold daily prayers at the beginning of each of its business days. Hamilton said, as the Star article points out, while people are free to pray as they wish in their places of worship, “they do not have a First Amendment right, however, to use an official platform like the Speaker’s podium ... to express their own religious faiths.”
Of course, we the taxpayers will be stuck paying the legal bills for this useless exercise. But Bosma will have another one of his hot-button wedge issues alive during next year’s election to drive voter turnout of the wackos on the far right. And he will further ensconce his image as a Christian martyr.