To Whom Can You Pray?

This might appear to be a post with  a religious theme and in a minor sense it is that.But there is more of  a judicial/political element that will dominate our story.

The President has nominated Judge David Hamilton of Indiana to the U  S Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He is currently Chief Judge of  the U  S district Court for the Southern District of Indiana. He was nominated in March and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved him in June. Sen Harry Reid has set a vote for the full Senate on Tuesday the 17th.

A couple of interesting facts about Judge Hamilton. In 2005, he ruled that the Indiana state legislature could not open its sessions with so-called Christian prayers and that these prayers must not use Christian terms such as Jesus Christ or savior. His ruling stated that the use of proselytizing terms  in prayers at the Indiana  statehouse was in violation of the U S  Constitution. This quote from his ruling is oddly disturbing and I  am not sure why. ” Those who wish to participate in a practice of official prayer must be willing to stay within constitutional bounds.” I’m uncertain which  part disturbs me more; that there is such a thing as official prayer or that there is some type of constitutional bounds for prayer. Somehow, I don’t think prayer can be contained within any bounds known to man. Anyway, Judge Hamilton also ruled in a post-judgment motion that it was not sectarian for a Muslim imam to offer a prayer to Allah. Confused, yep, me too. Kinda, sorta sounds politically correct, does it not?

A couple of other items. The judge  was briefly a fund-raiser for ACORN, great thing for your resume, if you want to be an Obama guy. The other you will either like  a lot or dislike a lot, depending on your political point of view. He was an officer in the Indiana branch of the ACLU. Presumably, that would indicate his somewhat sympathetic to their viewpoint.

In all probability, given the composition of the Senate, he will be confirmed next week. If so, the 7th Circuit could bear watching along with that left coast bastion, the fabled 9th Circuit.


November 14, 2009 - Posted by | Culture, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. To Whom Can You Pray?

    We will have to ask “the One” that question but then again he will say Allah!

    Comment by goodtimepolitics | November 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Oh, come on… you really don’t understand?

    An “official prayer” is a prayer offered in an official governmental public setting… like the one that was the subject of that lawsuit: the opening of the state legislature’s sessions. It doesn’t mean that there’s one official state-sanctioned prayer, and all other prayers are disallowed.

    And as for there being a “constitutional bounds for prayer” it means that there is a constitutional limt on what can be said in a prayer offered in a public governmental setting. You and I can say anything we want to in a prayer, and there’s no limit. But when we take a microphone at a public event, we’re no longer offering our prayer to our God in the privacy of our own hearts and minds, or even in the sanctity of our chosen church with other believers.

    If we cannot remain respectful of other people’s beliefs or non-beliefs in a public setting, then maybe there’s no need for a prayer to be said aloud in that setting to begin with.

    Comment by larrys | November 15, 2009 | Reply

    • Ok, I’ll bite. What would consider the constitutional limit and perchance where would Iocate it? Judge Hamilton did seem to indicate that the use of Allah wa sok but not Jesus Christ.

      Comment by Tarheeltalker | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. By the way, GTP, “Allah” is merely the Arabic word for “God” just as “Yahweh”: is the Hebrew word for “God”… and “God” is the English word for “God”! And it’s the same entity, “God” worshipped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

    Try studying a bit before you comment on things you don’t understand. (Oh, wait, that wouldn’t work, would it? You’d be studying EVERYTHING and you’d have to be able to read in order to study. Oh well, it was a good thought….)

    Comment by larrys | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. By sheer coincidence (and admittedly dumb luck) I already answered your question! Here’s what Judge Hamilton said in the post-judgment comment in Hinrichs v. Bosma:

    The Speaker has also asked whether, for example, a Muslim imam may offer a prayer addressed to “Allah.” The Arabic word “Allah” is used for “God” in Arabic translations of Jewish and Christian scriptures. If those offering prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives choose to use the Arabic Allah, the Spanish Dios, the German Gott, the French Dieu, the Swedish Gud, the Greek Theos, the Hebrew Elohim, the Italian Dio, or any other language’s terms in addressing the God who is the focus of the non-sectarian prayers contemplated in Marsh v. Chambers, the court sees little risk that the choice of language would advance a particular religion or disparage others. If and when the prayer practices in the Indiana House of Representatives ever seem to be advancing Islam, an appropriate party can bring the problem to the attention of this or another court.

    Hamilton’s statement is that “Allah” is merely the Arabic word for “God” and is therefore acceptable. “Jesus Christ” is not, in his opinion, because it is too sectarian. Presumably, mention of Mohammed or Abraham would similarly be unacceptable.

    Where can you locate this? Well, you’d obviously start with the First Amendment, and then, if you really wanted to follow it up,you could attend law school and study about two hundred years of court decisions that would explain how we reached this point. It’s called the “common law” and it’s an Anglo-American legal tradition of respect for precedence that has been followed for centuries.

    Comment by larrys | November 15, 2009 | Reply

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