Clergyman Barred From Saying Jesus Protests Sparked

07.20.09 | FL News Team

State House officials in Pennsylvania say they have been inundated with protests about a policy that barred a clergyman from using the word "Jesus" in a prayer that was to open one of the lawmakers' daily sessions.

The Rev. Gerry Stoltzfoos, of the Freedom Valley Worship Center in Gettysburg, had planned to end his prayer three weeks ago with "In Jesus' name, Amen." Under the policy then in effect, he was asked by House Speaker Keith McCall's office to submit the planned prayer in writing and to make sure it was nondenominational. The prayer was rejected.

The Pastor said he decided not to say the prayer at all rather than omit the name. The incident has sparked a controversy on the Internet including an online petition and denunciations of McCall. In the state Senate they ask prospective clergy to "be mindful of the religious diversity" of the chamber.

Stoltzfoos said he has been invited by Sen. Richard Alloway, who also represents Adams County, to open a Senate session July 29 with prayer. He said he has been told that using the name of Jesus will be all right.