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Christian Prayer Has No Place in the Statehouse, Says Rev. Kevin Armstrong '82

Christian Prayer Has No Place in the Statehouse, Says Rev. Kevin Armstrong '82

August 13, 2006

Kevin Armstrong Portrait.jpgAugust 13, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - "The speaker's podium is not a pulpit," Kevin R. Armstrong, senior pastor of North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis and 1982 graduate of DePauw University, tells the Indianapolis Star. In the "In Their Words" feature, Rev. Armstrong is asked about a number of issues, including why he feels state lawmakers are wrong to push for prayers that invoke the name of Jesus during sessions of the Indiana House of Representatives.

"The reason so many religious traditions flourish in this state and in America is precisely because we do not elevate one faith over another," Armstrong continues. "Religious leaders who are uncomfortable with that principle -- and I understand that will be the case -- may still pray for our government leaders in their particular way, with their particular language, but in religious settings and not in the state's chambers." 

A former chaplain at DePauw -- where he was president of his senior class -- Armstrong also holds a master of divinity degree from Duke University. "When I'm invited to a mosque or synagogue, I don't expect the imam or rabbi to change his or her prayers because I'm present. Nor has any Jew or Muslim asked me to exclude Jesus from my prayers in our church. The House, however, represents all of Indiana. I've heard Kevin Armstrong 82.jpgsome dissenters say that praying a nonsectarian prayer is like praying to no one at all. I think God is probably far more interested in our sincerity than in our salutation," he asserts.

You'll find more of the Q&A with Rev. Armstrong at the newspaper's Web site (note that the beginning of the conversation is missing from the online piece but appears in the printed edition).

Kevin Armstrong and L. Gregory Jones, dean of the Duke Divinity School, co-authored Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry, which was recently published. Learn about the book at Amazon.com.