The Rev. Dennis Campbell was pretty straight forward about what he expected out of state senators when he offered an opening prayer at their Monday session: Fealty to Jesus.
"And we pray, Lord, that you help us to show reverence to the Lord Jesus Christ and the word of God today," he said
But that's a problem if you're Jewish, like Sen. Terri Bonoff, Democrat of Minnetonka.[jump]
She's raising a stink because Campbell's prayer violated the simple request made of all faith leaders when they are invited to offer an invocation at the Capitol: Be polite and have some respect for everyone in the chamber.
"In an effort to be respectful of the religious diversity of our membership (Christian, Jewish and possibly others among them), we request that your prayer be interfaith and nonsectarian."
And that's a problem for Sen. David Brown, Republican of Becker. Us poor Christians are being persecuted, he told the Pioneer Press, because "there just seems to be intolerance for the name of Jesus on the Senate floor."
That persecution complex carried over to Bonoff's Facebook page, where some commenters cast themselves as victims. [Note: The comments were removed on Wednesday.]
Since Campbell didn't see fit to respect all faiths with his prayer, Bonoff wants the Senate rules amended to "require" rather than "request" that all prayers non-sectarian. That should be an easy sell in a Legislature whose Republican majorities were elected with a big assist from conservative Christian groups.
Campbell, meanwhile, insists he meant no harm. "Christians love Jews," he told the Star Tribune.
We'd take Campbell at his word, but this is the guy who took out an ad last year in the St. Cloud times fulminating about an Islamic takeover of America, and tried to pass it off as trying to convert Muslims. No harm meant. Really.
"How do Moslems seek to take control of a nation?" The ad asks. "Moslems seek to influence a nation by immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs, and by supporting the gay agenda."
"What happens when Moslems take over a nation? They will destroy the constitution and force the Moslem religion on the society, take freedom of religion away, and they will persecute all other religions."
Bosh, said the Minnesota Council of Churches' Gail Anderson in an op-ed for the same paper.
"We strive to live out the Christian mandate to "welcome the stranger" from Matthew 25. Part of that work involves bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together so that they can get to know each other as neighbors," she said. "Muslims in the community want to work at their jobs, raise their children, buy homes and get involved in their community just like other Minnesotans."
Can't we all just get along?