Grace in the news, Prayer in the Statehouse (updated)

Well, Grace Community Church (my home church) isn't actually in the news, but her senior pastor has appeared in the newspaper twice in the last few days. The first appearance I noticed was a few days ago when the Indiana Statehouse met for Organization Day. Now, there's been a controversy over whether prayer should kick off Statehouse sessions, and, not surprisingly, the ICLU says No, and has made quite a deal out of it. Apparently the Speaker of the House goes to my church and invited Dave Rod to open the session in prayer, despite the debate over the act. It surprised me to see Dave Rod's name and picture in the paper- typically our church keeps a reatively low profile- they don't advertise any events in the paper or on radio as many local churches do. They typically don't make political statements either- even this summer's sermon series on touchy topics that could turn political, didn't.
Article number two , with the same flattering picture of my pastor, appeared on the Indy Star web site today and promises a complete story tomorrow. Apparently prayers in the Statehouse have been officially limited- not banned outright, but the prayers are not allowed to offend anyone, basically, says a federal court judge.

I don't know what to think. Just as with prayer in schools, the school and the Statehouse are not Christian organizations. If a token prayer is said in either, it won't convert anyone, and, because it is more for show and symbolism than anything, probably won't even affect the way business or learning is done.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matt 6:6

While I understand why Dave Rod agreed to pray publicly in the Statehouse, and I'm sure he didn't offend anyone in the process (he's wise like that), I'd say we need more people praying for our government and lawmakers behind closed doors, alone and in committed groups, before we need to fight a court battle for a symbolic, because-we-can prayer that further divides people.

Edit: The full story has been posted here. They interviewed random people about the decision and, surprisingly, I agree most with the agnostic,

I think the concept of a generic prayer is lame; it defeats the purpose. Maybe they can have a rotating system of prayers led by people of different faiths.''
Matt Rinehart, 26, Indianapolis, agnostic

Another, unrelated local news story I'd like to add: The city with the gold-leaf "Welcome to Carmel" signs has a new status symbol -- a mayor with a six-figure salary.

The Carmel City Council approved the raise of about 15 percent last week after a consultant determined the city underpaid its department heads in comparison to other high-profile suburban communities such as Eden Prairie, Minn., and Naperville, Ill.

In keeping up with the 'Joneses' of the cities Carmel aspires to be, the mayor now makes more than the governor of the state and the mayor of Indianapolis.

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