Here's is my personal take on officially lead prayer in public areas like legislative chambers, schools, and other government functions: If I had it my way, it wouldn't happen. Now, a bit of personal prayer is fine. Back in my school days I prayed to Jesus before many a test, and I'm not particularly religious. However, leading a group in public prayer in such a setting leads to some awfully dicey situations, and an unlikely person perfectly illustrates why.
The Palm Beach Post reports that an Imam Qasim Ahmed, lead the state House in prayer this morning, however Republican House Majority leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, was conspicuously missing. He left the chamber right before the prayer, and returned after.
Against public prayer as I am, I'm not the type to excuse myself during it (unless we're talking about Satanist, Scientologists, or someone turning the prayer into a particularly ideological sermon but that doesn't happen too often). Instead, like a polite person I bow my head and listen in silence. Hasner here decided instead to make a very public snubbing.
This is the latest in the line of problems Hasner has caused with the Islamic faith. This weekend he was on the hosting committee for a summit feature radically anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilder.
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But there lies the problem with mixing Church and State, even in prayer. We don't all agree. We're not supposed to. In a perfect world, we'd be respectful of others' beliefs, but this isn't a perfect world, and in the end it just causes trouble.