Advance America, which is based in Indiana, hired a law firm in Seminole, Florida, the Gibbs Law Firm, to write its amicus brief in Hinrichs v. Bosma. Apparently, the six-figure retainer fee paid to Advance America founder Eric Miller's law firm, which shares its office space with the organization, doesn't cover such work. This is what the six-figure legal retainer must cover according to the brief:
The staff of Advance America reads and reviews every bill filed in the Indiana General Assembly. They then evaluate each bill and make themselves available to offer testimony before legislative committees. The staff also talk directly with legislators, draft amendments and bills, and inform citizens about various bills being considered in the General Assembly.
The brief is careful to clarify that Advance America is a non-partisan group which does not endorse any candidate or political party [wink, wink, nod, nod]. Describing the group, the brief says:
Amicus Advance America, Inc., an organization located at 101 West Ohio, Suite 660, Indianapolis, Indiana 26204(sic), is a grassroots network that includes over 45,000 families, 1,500 businesses, and over 3,500 churches in Indiana. Advance America is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt, educational entity that informs individuals and organizations about what is occurring in state government and particularly about activities taking place in the Indiana General Assembly. As a non-profit educational organization, Advance America does not endorse any candidate or political party.
Advance America's main argument in its brief is that if Judge Hamilton's decision is affirmed, "the majority of pastors and members whose churches make up the Advance America legislative grassroots network will be prohibited from participating in this important tradition since they believe they are required by their Christian faith to pray in the name of Jesus." Did I read that right? Does the group say, "The majority of pastors and members . . . will be prohibited from participating" in prayer if they aren't allowed to invoke the name of Jesus? Yes, that is indeed what it says. That means some Christians can pray without invoking the name of Jesus. Which Christians would that be do you think?
To support its argument that a "majority of pastors and members" would be prohibited from participating in the legislative prayer as a result of Judge Hamilton's ruling, the group relies on no less of an authority than the Bible. Advance America maintains that the New Testament's Gospel according to John requires Christians to invoke the name of Jesus in prayer. The group cites the following verses from John:
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. John 14:13(a)
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]. John 14:14
Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give you. John 16:23
Gee, is that what those verses mean? Does that mean if I pray in Jesus' name that Brian Bosma will no longer be Speaker of the Indiana House after this year's elections, my wish will be granted? I asked it in his name and John 14:13(a) says "whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do." But I don't think Eric Miller would agree with that interpretation.
What I'm really having trouble with is this other Bible verse that seems a little less ambiguous than the Gospel according to John. It's written in the Gospel according to Matthew. And it reads as follows:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matt 6: 5.
If I read this verse correctly, I'm instructed by Jesus to pray in secret behind closed doors, and not pray in public as the hypocrites do. Oh but I forgot, Eric Miller and Brian Bosma are both hypocrites, and that's what hypocrites do according to Jesus. Never mind.