About 100 people turned out Thursday for Minnesota’s National Day of Prayer event at the state Capitol, and many politicians were there to take part. Rep. Michele Bachmann sent a message by way of her husband, Marcus; a Secretary of State candidate said the military helps bring people to Christ; and an absent Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave his seal of approval for the event by way of an official proclamation.
Striking a recurring theme at the event, Rep. Dan Severson, the GOP-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State, told the crowd that Minnesota had to move back to biblical principles.
“We live in a blessed land that was formed on a Constitution, that was based on biblical principles and principles of a belief in God and a belief that the truth will set men free,” he said.
He prayed for the nation’s men and women serving in the armed forces and spoke about the important work they do.
“And for America, that importance is that every man woman and child would have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as their personal savior,” he said. “So we want to lift up these men and women who are committed to this country.”
Rep. Dan Severson
Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau read a proclamation from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who did not attend the event as he has in previous years.
“Now therefore, I, Tim Palwenty, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 6, 2010, as day of prayer in the State of Minnesota and humbly encourage citizens of faith to turn to God as their understanding and beliefs direct, that we may open our hearts in thanksgiving for the blessings we received and to seek strength, wisdom, and encouragement to build a better Minnesota for all.”
Marcus Bachmann read a letter from Rep. Bachmann, but before he did, he gave his own remarks.
“Today is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice! And let us be reminded that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
He then read a letter from his wife, whom he called his “beloved.”
“Our country has a rich Christian history and was founded upon the principle of biblical freedom. What a gift it is to know that God has blessed us with the right to pray, teach and practice our beliefs in this great country,” she wrote.
“May we continue to stand boldly against tyranny,” she said. “We will work to restore our land to its foundations of religious freedom. We must never forget that these rights are given by God and that they are hated by unfaithful men.”
Pastor Peggy Johnson then conducted a fiery “laying on of hands” for Marcus Bachmann.
“He is Lord over Minnesota,” she said. “He is Lord over this nation. He is Lord! And so we declare it today,” she shouted as the crowd swayed, eyes closed and arms out-stretched. “Lord, we pray a protection around [members of Congress]. And Lord we pray for divine protection around these leaders. We ask you would give them divine revelation from your throne room.”
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie
Many Democratic members of the legislature turned out to greet the crowd as well. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher declined to pray, instead asking all members of the legislature present to stand and be recognized. Sen. Terri Bonoff took to the mic to offer a Jewish prayer, in what would be the only non-evangelical Christian prayer of the day. (In past years, the event hasn’t included any non-evangelical speakers.)
“I’m Jewish so I offered to do a Hebrew prayer so that we could all be included,” she told the crowd.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has attended the event for years. He used the opportunity to remember Sgt. Joe Bergeron, a Maplewood police officer who was killed in the line of duty over the weekend.
“Prayer can bring us comfort, especially in times of loss,” he said. “The funeral this morning for Sgt. Bergeron’s family – of the meaning and the words and the prayers that were given, I was most touched by his nephew. His nephew said that Joe didn’t become a hero in his death; he was a hero by how he lived his life.”
“And my prayer today,” Ritchie added, “is that we be heroes in our lives.”
This year’s prayer day follows an April ruling by a federal judge in Wisconsin deeming the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. The Minnesota event’s coordinator, Sharon Auldrich, told the Minnesota Independent last month that the state prayer day “draw[s] a line in the sand.“
“Those who say they believe in God and say they have biblical values will have to step forward and prove it.”