Va. House Democrats protest opening prayer as conservative pastor condemns abortion, gay marriage

May 2018
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This was simply not appropriate.

Democrats walked off the floor of the House of Delegates Tuesday morning as the pastor invited to give the opening prayer delivered stinging remarks condemning abortion and gay marriage and said God would bring his “wrath” against those who don’t follow biblical principles.

“Is this a prayer or a sermon?,” a delegate yelled from the Democratic side of the chamber as the prayer turned increasingly political.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, ultimately ended the prayer by banging her gavel and moving right into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Democrats were sharply critical of the prayer’s tone, calling it a breach of the normal protocols for guest clergy.

“It was totally disrespectful to all of us, all of us in this House,” said Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, who is a pastor himself.

The pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Grant Jr. of The Father’s Way Church in Warrenton, had been invited by Del. Michael Webert, R-Fauquier.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Grant stood by his remarks and called the Democratic response “unprofessional.”

“I think that the statehouse belongs to all the citizens. And all the citizens have a voice,” Grant said. “If it’s my turn to have a voice, and I am a pastor, what do you expect from me? If you don’t want to hear what a pastor has to say, then don’t invite one.”

As he walked off, a man accompanying Grant asked a group of reporters if they were aware that “sodomy” was once considered an offense worthy of capital punishment. He declined to give his name.

Guests delivering the opening prayers — which are usually nonpolitical and encompass a variety of religious faiths — are typically invited to send in the text of their remarks beforehand.That did not happen with Tuesday’s prayer, according to House officials.

Even some Republicans said they felt the tone was inappropriate.

“I don’t know if he was ill-instructed or didn’t realize what he was here to do,” said Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell. “This wasn’t the place or the time to do all of that. … This is a time we need to be working together and not
being divisive.”

Under Democratic control for the first time in decades, the General Assembly is advancing legislation to roll back restrictions on abortion and strengthen laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
 
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Dec 2006
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I'm glad they spoke up - but with this GOP administration doing everything possible with it's "Freedom of Religion" policies and laws, the bigoted comments of the asshat pastor were really just an extension of our President's personal agenda.
 
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May 2018
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I'm glad they spoke up - but with this GOP administration doing everything possible with it's "Freedom of Religion" policies and laws, the bigoted comments of the asshat pastor were really just an extension of our President's personal agenda.
Yep, and good for Virginia for strengthening protections in the face of that.
 
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