A Catholic priest from the diocese of Colorado Springs opened a session of the Colorado House of Representatives by asking God to make the lawmakers “the antithesis of John Kennedy.”
The Colorado House begins each day with a prayer, with different ministers invited to do the honors. According to the Rocky Mountain News, clerics are told to keep the prayer nonsectarian, make it more like a “thought for the day” meditation and to keep it to two minutes.
Fr. Bill Carmody prayed that the state legislators would not be afraid to bring their faith into their decisions as elected officials. Carmody criticized Kennedy for saying he could not let his Catholic faith influence his policy decisions.
Rep. Alice Madden, a Democrat from Boulder, was horrified that the priest criticized one of her heroes, reported the Rocky Mountain News.
“To use your cloth to make a political statement when you've been asked to speak to a body of legislators seems particularly heinous to me,” she told the paper.
But Rep. Bill Sinclair, a Republican from Colorado Springs, defended Carmody, the Associated Press reports, telling lawmakers the prayer was not an attack on Kennedy.
“The appeal here today by the individual who gave that prayer was ‘Let's not set our faith aside. Let's not become a godless society.’ Although there's an appropriate separation of church and state and should be adhered to I think it's gone too far in my own personal belief,” Sinclair told his colleagues in the House.
Fr. Carmody, who expressed surprise at the reaction to his prayer, said he believes Kennedy abdicated his faith to win the presidential election.
Carmody's full prayer says:
“Forty years ago, John F. Kennedy, who was running for president, was under intense scrutiny for his Catholic faith. He made a pledge to the nation that he would not allow his faith to influence his decisions as president. He honored that pledge.
Sadly, politician after politician has followed in Kennedy's footsteps and no longer bring their faith with them in public office. This has led to a vacuum of morality in public debate. Politicians now claim, ‘I am personally opposed to this but I can not let my morality and/or faith influence my decisions.’
I ask you, Almighty God, to change this.
I ask that the Catholics here present in this chamber bring their faith in making public policy decisions.
I ask that evangelicals bring their faith when they vote on public policy.
I ask that mainline Protestants bring their faith into the public square.
I ask that the Jewish people here present bring their faith with them when they vote on issues of public policy.
I ask that all people of faith here in this chamber truly be first and foremost, people of faith.
I ask that the representatives here present today will be men and women of God. If it costs them elections, so be it. It will bring this nation closer to God.
Our nation needs people of God to represent them in public office. Our nation has seen enough of people who claim to be a person of God yet never bring God or their faith into the public debate.
Almighty God, please change and convert the hearts of all representatives in this house.
May they be the antithesis of John Kennedy.
May they be women and men of God and may their faith influence and guide every vote they make.
May God bless this chamber and our state.”