Legislative Prayer Sparks Big Furor In Arizona

A state lawmaker in Arizona enraged fellow lawmakers when he recited a lengthy prayer on the House floor that condemned welfare, abortion and "alternative lifestyles."

On Jan. 26, Rep. Doug Quelland (R-Phoenix) recited a prayer made popular by a guest chaplain in the Kansas House of Representatives eight years ago that attacks gay people, legal abortion, tolerance of non-Christian religions and other features of life condemned by the far right.

The prayer included a long list of confessions, such as, "We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism," "We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle," "We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare," and "We have killed our unborn and called it justifiable." Quelland ended the prayer "In the name of our son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen."

The controversial invocation was first delivered in the Kansas legislature in 1996 and subsequently disseminated throughout the World Wide Web. Lawmakers in other states have used it since then.

The Arizona Republic reported that Democrats in the Arizona House responded with a unanimous written protest in which they called the prayer "divisive."

"It was a pandering, mudslinging, name-calling political statement," the Democrats stated. "It was hateful and mean-spirited. It was undignified. The citizens of Arizona deserve better."