Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wiccan Priestess to Pray over Iowa House of Representatives Tomorrow Morning // Updated on 04/09/15

Originally written on 04/08/15: A Wiccan priestess from nearby Cedar Rapids will be praying over the Iowa House tomorrow morning:
(Deborah) Maynard will give the morning invocation Thursday in the Iowa House. She’s a Wiccan priestess, leader of the Cedar Rapids covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a member of People’s Church here in town. She was invited to be the House’s “pastor of the day” by Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids.
This will be the first time that a  Wiccan will have given the invocation here in Iowa. Usually, these are done by Christians, though we've occasionally received prayers from rabbis or imams.

She told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that she plans to offer an prayer that is "broad, friendly and inclusive" and "not be like a witches' blessing."

The Wild Hunt reached out to Rep. Bennett for a comment about Maynard's inclusion and received the following response:
Each morning, a local religious leader gives an inclusive prayer to the Iowa House. I believe that the Iowa House belongs to the people, and that all people should be welcome. As a State Representatives it is not our role to endorse one religion over another, rather to represent our constituents. Deborah is a constituent who is Wiccan, and an active member of a local Unitarian Universalist faith community. She is happy to join us and give an inclusive prayer from her faith tradition. Why should the House not be as open to her as it would be to anyone else? 

Some people might ask why I would invite a non-Christian. I would ask them why we should exclude a non-Christian. 

There is room for all Iowans under the dome of the Iowa House.
Maynard is to give the invocation tomorrow morning.

Updated on 04/09/15: Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard gave the invocation at today's Iowa House session earlier today. Here is the text to her "controversial" invocation:
We call this morning to God, Goddess, Universe, that which is greater than ourselves to be here with us today. By the Earth that is in our bones and centers us, may all here remember our roots and those whom we are here to represent.

By the fire that gives us light and passion, may all here remain passionate about the work that must be done for the people of Iowa.

By the air that gives us breath and logic, may all here find thoughtful solutions to the problems that are presented.

By the water that flows through our blood and stirs our emotions, may all here draw on that emotional intelligence which helps us to see the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

We call this morning to Spirit, which is ever present, to help us respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Be with this legislative body and guide them to seek justice, equity and compassion in the work that is before them today.

Blessed Be, Aho, and Amen.
More than half of the House Representatives did not attend the invocation and even more protested Maynard's blessing by turning their back to her:
(Rep. Rob Taylor of West Des Moines) said he prayed often the past several days about how to respond to the Wiccan prayer. "I thought to myself, 'What would Jesus do?' Jesus would be in the chamber from my perspective. He would passively protest and then he would seek that individual out and have a peaceful conversation with them about why his way was the best way, and so that is what I did today."
It was unclear how Maynard responded to Taylor's proselytizing.

Maynard's invocation was also protested by members of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ congregation. Their pastor prayer throughout Maynard's blessing. Pastor Michael Demastus later said that he wished that Iowa's legislators would've heard a Christian prayer instead of what they got today.

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