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