Baltimore minister causes more upset on Senate prayer

Jewish members object to use of `in Jesus' name'

January 21, 2003|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A controversy over the prayers that open sessions of the Maryland Senate continued last night after a Baltimore clergyman ended his invocation with a reference to Jesus - a practice some Jewish members object to.

The Rev. Reginald Thomas of the Greater Gethsemane Baptist Church apparently ignored or misunderstood requests from senators when he ended a prayer with "in Jesus' name."

Jewish members, who had complained to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller last week after Senate rules requiring ecumenical prayers were ignored on three occasions during the two weeks the General Assembly has been in session, expressed outrage that their concerns had not been addressed. Different members of the clergy offer the prayers during the three-month legislative session.

Thomas said that he was approached by senators before the session and told about those concerns but that there was no opportunity to finish the discussion.

However, two senators said they had directly asked the minister to avoid reference to a specific deity, as called for under the Senate rules.

Senate Majority Leader Nathaniel J. McFadden, who invited Thomas, said, "I did everything I could" to persuade him to offer an ecumenical prayer but was not surprised his advice was rejected.

"That's his conviction," the Baltimore Democrat said.

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