Senator Wants Senate Chamber Prayers Nondenominational

By Edgar Linares, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — On Monday, a prayer on the Senate floor made Democratic State Sen. Terri Bonoff feel “highly uncomfortable.” Bonoff, from Minnetonka, is Jewish and says the visiting Baptist pastor made several references to Jesus Christ and Christianity.

“I have great respect for religion and the importance of it in people’s lives,” said Bonoff. “What I was raising is that we have a long-standing tradition in the Senate that our prayer is done nondenominationally.”

The Senate gives a letter to all visiting church leaders requesting they keep their prayer in a non-denominational fashion. The two-minute prayer given by Pastor Dennis Campbell on Monday referred to “Jesus Christ” three times.

After the prayer, Bonoff stood up and requested reaffirmation of the prayer policy.

“I wondered if this happened because perhaps this minister was invited by someone who wasn’t aware of this tradition,” she said.

Bonoff said after making the request for reaffirmation she didn’t receive strong statements back.

Now she’s asking the letter sent to visiting church leaders not “request” non-denominational prayer but “require” it.

Bonoff says whenever a prayer is given she feels connected to others on the floor.

“When there’s a prayer said with a strong faith message that is different from my own, I don’t have that (connecting) experience,” said Bonoff. “It in fact leaves me with a sense of surprise and a feeling of disconnect, and being disenfranchised from my colleagues.”

WCCO’s John Hines Interviews Sen. Terri Bonoff

More from Edgar Linares
  • josh

    get over it!! focus on our state debt!!!!!!!!!

  • Marzipan

    Pretty soon we won’t even be allowed to pray to “God”, because it will be considered “denominational”.

  • Rob

    How much money are they going to spend to do this. Get over it and get on with your job.

  • Rachael in Minnetonka

    Terri – bring in a Rabbi. Then all’s fair and equal.
    Don’t play this thing for any more than this. It was not meant to be an issue.
    I voted for you more than once but if this escaltes into something that I am sensing …. never again. I suspect most here in ‘tonka share that thought. Stop it

  • Confused

    Disenfranchised because someone uttered the name Jesus? She’s confused about the definition of disenfranchised………………Even so, what ever happend to the politicians allegiance to our constitution and defending rights to freedom of speech.

  • PJ

    Oh God in Heaven help us all. Just let it be its not directed at you personally. Is it really going to make you life miserable. Just get to your job

  • Dan

    I thought adulthood was a requirement for election to the Senate, but I guess it’s optional.

  • He who sees

    She is right. Non-denominational prayer can bring people together, but, once you start prayers for only one religion, you’re cutting off you’re fellow brethren from the community feeling. Such is the problem of religion in general vs. the good of all human kind. There will never be a united human race as long as there is the specter of religion shadowing it.

  • K Hatlestad

    Would the previous commentors respond the same way to a prayer that called on Allah, Budha, Zororaster or Baha’ullah?

    • Ralph bets nope

      nope – they’d load up the AK’s and head down the pass to do an ambush. Good old hypocrites alive and well in MN

    • maryn

      This is the United States of America. A country with a founding principle of the belief in GOD.




    • MSavick

      No one in the in any part of Minnesota government should be forced to leave the room or have someone’s prayer forced on them.. There is a little thing called the Constitution which has a item called the “establishment clause” that separates government from religion. the US Constitution can be found on lie and in the library.

      • Denise

        Liar. Fraud. JUDE.

      • Dan

        @Denise – Hey Eva Braun-go swallow your cyanide pill awaits.

  • MARK

    Why are they praying in the Senate anyway? There should be no prayer of any denomination. What a ridiculous waste of time.

    • Billy

      Mark, Ba Humbug Prayer does bring all peole together in a sence of a netural sprit of doing the job at hand. And as much as I disagree with the senator, Prayer is a good thing and is necessery I personaly think it doesent matter if you pray to God or Buta Your God knows Your on Heart,s feelings and that should be the end of it. Mark may God,Allia, Buda, who ever Bless and Keep you safe. And Senator, God Loves you to.

  • Rev. Jodi

    I completely agree with this senator! I would be offended if someone prayed to a diety I did not believe in. It’s SO easy to pray non-demonitional prayers that are meaningful!

    I agree with the other points, tho, just get the budget figured out, please!

  • Andrew

    Bonoff, I don’t think this agrument will work out well for you politically. If the speaker was Jewish and included content specific to the Jewish faith, I doubt very much that you would be making wake. Focus on your job as a Senator – doesn’t the Senate have enough to worry about? Find another way to get your name in the papers . . . grow up

    • MARK

      So you’d be cool if the daily Senate prayer mentioned only Allah, I suppose? Or do I just not get it and need to grow up, too?

      • Andrew

        Well Mark, if you keep this all in perspective and avoid dramatic exaggerations, you’ll find that her “objection” was the mention of the name “Jesus” three times. I don’t recall reading that this was the ONLY name mentioned or that it is a regular occurence on the Senate floor. She should spend her time, effort, and energy on objectives concerning her elected position as a Senator. And yes, you need to grow up too Mark :-) You like to twist things ay?

      • MARK

        I made a dramatic exaggeration? I made a rhetorical point, nothing more. So your contention is that Jesus was not the only name mentioned, they also mentioned other religions in the Senate prayer? Obviously, they did not.

        And just a pointer, telling people to “grow up” isn’t going to help convince anyone of your argument. Just the opposite, in fact.

    • MSavick

      Senator Bonoff represents many faith and non faith communities within her community. Rabbis are also requested to make their prayers nondenominational. You wouldn’t recognize a denominational prayer from a rabbi because your theology starts with the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Psalms anyone?

  • Dana

    Voter her out of office and she wont have to feel uncomfortable again !

    • Gads

      Yea — vote for Muhammed. He’ll cleanse the Christian wackos

  • TW

    This is America, enjoy your freedom to be specific and denominational in the practicing of your faith. So long as your faith does not require anything from me and mine from you we should be fine.

  • Really!

    This is typical of lawmakers. One thing happens one time and we have to spend time, energy and taxdollars to change it all for everybody. Maybe he wasn’t aware of the “rule”. LET IT GO! Or perhaps listen with interest and enlighten yourself to other peoples ways, cultures and attitudes. Maybe it will help you be a little more considerate of people who aren’t like you.

  • budgen

    Where did all the meanness come from. I agree there are bigger issues at hand but the request was neither irrational or controversial. Please calm down if you are feeling mean. Try a little introspective of why you may be angry about someone elses feeling.

  • Takes a lot of chutzpa to cry foul over this

    I’ve lost pretty much all respect for Sen. Bonoff after she decided to make headlines over this non-issue. Was there a personal attack on her, on a member of the senate, on the USA, on her faith, on anyone or anything? There was not.

    If this is an example of how she prioritizes things, she will not earn my vote again.

  • DJ

    If the senate feels the need to pray while in session then they should follow that up with passing around the collection plate with all the proceeds then given back to us taxpayers.

    Until that happens the religious rituals and the subsequent objections are nothing more than a waste of time.

  • mjl

    Get on with it. He was not trying to convert you it was a prayer. Hope she isn’t that narrow minded in her duties as a senator. I love hearing prayers from other religions to broden my views. That doesn’t mean i am going to convert because i am aware of how they feel. There is freedom of speech.

    • Victim Du Juor

      equal time every day for me too.
      Then a Rabbi
      Then a preacher again.
      They babble long enough the politcal freaks won’t get a thing done. Oh wait – they never have
      Go Mohammed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • pat

    Jesus said “No one comes to the Father, but through me” If the mere mention of the name of the Lord makes Ms. Bonhoff uncomfortable, perhaps she should examine her “feelings”, he may be calling her.

  • mark from

    State Sen. Terri Bonoff has come out to say that she wants Jesus out of the Minnesota Senate Prayer. When I was reading this I could not feel anything but anger at her. For too long people like her have tried to take our right to prayer out of our schools and now she has moved to take the word Jesus out of our State Capitol.
    We sent Sen. Bonoff an email to interview her, or get her comments on this but have not heard back from her or her staff. We are wondering why such a simple name could give her such a pain that she would want it removed from prayer. She is Jewish and is well aware of what the name Jesus means to her.
    The name “Jesus” in her own words makes her feel uncomfortable. How could one mans name make a person feel so uncomfortable that they would want to have it removed from prayers? I got to thinking how I would feel if a group wanted to use their right as Americans to pray and what I would do. I would leave the room if the prayers or the person whom they were praying to. That’s it in a nut shell, just leave the room and go do my own thing. This self righteous Senator wants to force her views on religion and the state down our throats with out a fight. Thinking all along that we would lay down and let her take our right as Americans to pray.
    The last time I checked Senator, the United States Constitution gives us that right, and no one will take that right away from us. Could we Senator use another name in place of Jesus? How about Buddha or Mohamed? Or would those names make you feel uncomfortable? If a Rabbi would come and pray would that be ok in your book?
    I am a big believer in ones right to pray, and believe that the state has already taken many of our religious and personal rights away over the past 25 years. But Sen. Bonoff has gone too far in taking more of these rights away because one mans name makes her feel uncomfortable.
    Sen. Bonoff do you want to know what makes us feel uncomfortable? People unable to find work, taxes going up, State Senators thinking of funding a stadium as our roads get more and more pot holes, our homes in foreclosure, Minnesota school children failing, but the schools want more money! These are just a few of the things that make us uncomfortable.
    How about stop caring about what’s important to you and take care of the voters who put you in office!

    • MSavick

      You still have a right to prayer in school. Ever take a hard math test? You just don’t have a right to force your prayers on anyone else. Forcing prayer on someone else doesn’t work. Insincere prayer is recognized and worthless. G-d is smarter than that.

      • Denise

        Your odious and crimonal Tribe has been driven out of country after country, for over 2000 year. 109 countires, approx. And it’a ALWAYS for the SAME reasons. It’s YOU. Jews haven’t been persecuted. EVER. They’ve been CAUGHT. Wait til America fully understands what the Tribe has done to my country……..

        Nation 110 is stepping up to the plate…

    • Denise

      Jews are always behind the attacks on Christianity. They are the oldest Enemies of the Christ. Americans have been snookered, for decades, tricked and lied to aobut their true natures, and agendas. Please understand that their hatred for Christians knows NO bounds, They seek to erradicate Christianity, and enforce the Noahide Laws, You will be their slave – or they will kill you.

      • MSavick

        So this isn’t an honest discussion and friendly disagreement about the US Constitution, the First Amendment, the establishment clause or keeping a longstanding tradition & covenant among Minnesota Senators to engage in non denominational prayer for Denise.

        Denise’s rant is spouting pure hatred for the Jewish Community.
        I suspect she doesn’t even know any members of the Jewish community. I am impressed that less that 3% of the population has so much power over her.
        I will have to discuss this phenomenon with my friend who is a retied minister and my neighbor, who is the father of a minister, at our Passover table.

        So what does Denise and “Nation 110” (whoever they are?) have to offer in the way of accomplishments and contributions to our country and our community?

    • Josh

      No one has taken any right away. Children can pray in schools if they so choose -that is in no way illegal. What you can’t do, is organize the students together and have a school sponsored prayer. I’m sorry that are so insecure in your religion that you feel the need to include it in public discourse. There’s no reason to bring up any religious figure in a public forum that concerns multi-faiths, as well as non-believers. But you know what? I say let’s have government-sponsored religion- look how good that worked out for the Church of England. As James Madison argued -the more you involve religion in politics, the more people turn their backs. And when there are more Muslims than Christians in this country, it’ll be interesting to hear the what the Christians have to say.

  • Sunshine

    The US was founded by people that wanted to keep religion seperate from government. I’m tired of people whining because some of us are trying to keep it that way. There should not be any religion in government because how would you choose which one to favor?
    And how have they taken away any freedoms by not featuring christianity? Where did she say you can worship your favorite diety? You can still pray all you want, just don’t try to get others to conform to your prayers and your version of religion.

    • Rev. Jodi

      nicely stated sunshine!!! I have often been troubled by the notion that other people’s religious beliefs somehow might nullify mine. Celebrate your religion and I will celebrate mine!

  • mark from

    @Sunshine You might want to read your history on the USA. We were founded on Christian beliefs.

    • He who sees

      What, the same beliefs that almost killed off the entire people who were here before the christians? The beliefs that tricked those people out of their lands that they lived off for hundreds or thousands of years. What, did you also forget that the christian forefathers that founded the USA are the ones who originally wanted separation of church and state and would be the same ones that probably wouldn’t want ANY prayers in a capitol building or on a senate floor?

      • Denise

        Errr…ever heard of the Windover Bog people? The earliest known inhabitants? Who were Caucasians?

        You Land Bridge ASIANS killed off the original inhabitants, you vile racist.

      • Denise

        Caucasians were in the North American Contient befor the Land Bridge Asian savages showed up. DO try to keep up.

    • Rev. Jodi

      Mark – our country was founded by a bunch of Unitarians trying to escape religious dogmatism. We (USA) were NOT founded on Christian beliefs. Seperation of church and state, all the way!

      • Denise

        Wrond. You must be a Jew. You twist and LIE. The Founders were Christians.

    • maryn

      Amen, brother!!

    • Ben

      Right…Like when Thomas Jefferson said, “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” Or when he said “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” Check out the “Treaty of Tripoly”, anything James Madison had to say on the subject, or the Jeffersonian bible. Or just move to Texas.

  • jtt

    OK. When people say this country was based on Christian beliefs, I think they need to explain. So, go ahead and explain…

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