Hawaii Senators Hold Prayer Despite Ban

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Nine senators from Hawaii are not backing down when it comes to prayer.

Last week, the Hawaii Senate voted to end its official invocations before Senate sessions after complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union that the invocations often referred to Jesus Christ.

The ACLU says that reference is at odds with the separation of church and state, prompting Senate leaders to avoid any appearance of breaking the law.

On Wednesday, the nine senators held an informal prayer meeting in the Senate chamber before the day's session, asking God to bless and guide them as they sought to serve the people they represent. 

"It's nice to start off the day with a prayer because we need all the help we can get," said Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kalaeloa-Makakilo.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui said while he didn't participate in the impromptu prayer, he appreciated their decision to pray together informally.

"It's a matter of free speech," said Tsutsui, D-Wailuku-Kahului. "We do encourage members, at their own will and desire, to go ahead and engage in prayer."

They insist their faith has a place in their work.

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