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Prayerless State of the State Address

Thu, Apr 14th, 2016 11:42:09 pm

Prayerless State of the State Address

In a major breach of protocol, the State of the State Address by Governor Kasich before a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly in Marietta last week, did not open with a prayer from the clergy. OCA President Chris Long who was in attendance recounted, "There was a call to order by the Speaker of the House and Senate President, a call to quorum, the presentation of colors by the Honor Guard, and then the Senate President looked down at his notes as to what was next on the program. He seemed to pause as to wonder if they had forgotten something. He then announced Governor Kasich, who walked down the aisle to the stage with members of his cabinet. He greeted the audience, delivered his speech, there was the retirement of colors, and the conclusion of the assembly. What stood out to me and other attendees was the major omission of the opening prayer. This State of the State was held in Marietta in observance of the city's 228th birthday as the first chartered settlement of the Northwest Territory. Article 3 of The Northwest Ordinance states, "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind..." Given the occasion and setting, it was especially bothersome that prayer was left out.
Since our nation's founding, prayer has been offered before the Continental Congress, the U.S. Congress, and in all 50 states of the union throughout our 240-year history. Prayer and divine guidance has been sought by our elected officials at the opening of each assembly. Before every Ohio House and Senate Session, prayer is offered by a visiting clergy member who has been invited by an elected official of that district for the purpose of offering the prayer.
I began to ask House and Senate Leadership why the prayer was omitted from the program. No one had an immediate answer, and we are still waiting for a response. We also phoned the Governor's Director of Legislative Affairs, Merle Madrid. He has not returned our calls. Since Governor Kasich chose to take the State of the State to remote locations away from Columbus, it is understood that his office has more direct involvement in the program schedule for the State of the State Address. The question of why the Governor and his people removed the prayer from the program has still not been answered, but in an environment when faith is under fire with Bibles being removed from military installations and religious freedom laws being ridiculed by the Governor as unnecessary, it makes one wonder why he now thinks that prayer is unnecessary. We would be interested to hear the Governor's reason for the removal of the opening prayer at his State of the State addres



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