Minn. Senator Wants Jesus' Name Out of Prayers

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A Minnesota lawmaker is on a mission to remove the name of Jesus from the prayers that begin each State Senate session.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, a Democrat who represents the North Star State's District 43, is Jewish. She says she feels uncomfortable when the prayers include the name of Jesus Christ.

"I'm a very religious woman and believe deeply in God," said Bonoff of the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka. "We honor God in public and our political discourse, and that's proper. But in doing a nondenominational prayer we are honoring him without violating the separation of church and state."

She has requested that the Senate leadership require all visiting chaplains to say a non-denominational prayer.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said Wednesday she wouldn't support such a requirement. She said the Senate invites leaders from numerous Christian and non-Christian faith traditions to pray, and notifies them that senators come from a diverse background.

"I'm not going to get into the process of sort of editing prayer," Koch said.

Other Jewish state lawmakers have also complained, saying they too feel uncomfortable when Christian prayers are given before the legislative body begins its work.

The Hawaii State Senate in January ended opening prayers altogether out of concern over possible lawsuits on First Amendment grounds.

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