- 2015 Session
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We pray in the senate, every day. As part of our opening ceremony every morning we also salute the flag and offer the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a long-standing tradition that brings to mind that there is something more than temporary politics at work here – a respect for something deeper that inspires and binds us together.
In May of 2014, the senate president posted the following, in light of a Supreme Court decision.
The senate begins each legislative day with prayer. Our prayers represent and respect the diversity of religious faith in Utah communities, including Buddhist, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Protestant and others. Individuals who offer senate prayers are welcome to say what is in their heart, using the language they feel is appropriate. We do not proselytize, exclude, degrade, or prescribe.
We agree with today’s United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway that prayer is in harmony with the traditions of our country. The founders of our nation frequently sought wisdom and strength from God, as have most leaders and citizens at crucial moments throughout our history.
We differ, however, from the majority opinion of the Court in one minor respect. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers.”
Our prayers are not just ceremonial.
I believe that prayer has a purpose and value greater than just recognizing leaders and institutions. In our experience, legislative prayer provides a quiet moment that reminds us of our relationship and duty to God and all his children, and the diversity of faith in those we represent. They are an appropriate daily reminder of the Almighty as we begin our legislative work.
Prayers offered on the senate floor can be viewed at the beginning of each session day’s floor recording, archived on the legislative site. Some examples:
– Wat Dhammagunaram Buddhist prayer, 3/9/10
– Rabbi Benny Zippel of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, 02/26/13
– Caru Das of the Sri Sri Radha Krishnas, 2/19/10
– President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1/26/09