“Jesus has been booed many times,” says chaplain jeered during town hall prayer
(By Ed Stetzer, The Exchange. Recently Ed Stetzer interviewed Dr. Michael Sprague, Louisiana State Chaplain with the Capitol Commission, who last week was jeered at a town hall meeting by protestors when he went to pray. These protests have been taking place across the nation, but this one took a rather agressive turn against the chaplain praying and the veteran leading the pledge. Stetzer invited all to read this article about it and be sure to watch the video. Michael’s words are a powerful reminder that our world is need of the Jesus who will wash us clean and give us new life).
Ed: What happened last week when many at the town hall meeting started to protest during your prayer?
Michael: I’m a chaplain of the state of Louisiana with a group called The Capitol Commission. I was asked a week earlier to come in, like I often do at events throughout the state. For decades, most of our events have opened up with an invocation of prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and then whatever the event is.
I fully expected to ask the blessing upon the meeting, have a sense of dependence on God and in God we trust, together we would say the pledge, and then the meeting would proceed. However, there were about 800 people present, and only 200 seats available. It was a crowd that was amped up at the start, and when Senator Bill Cassidy arrived, I kicked things off with prayer. However, there was so much shouting and chaos that I paused for a moment to see whether I should start.
It was clear after a while that it wasn’t going to stop, so I proceeded with the prayer. As I prayed in Jesus’ name, there were shouts of “Lucifer” and “separation of church and state.” Some people referred to me as a Nazi. That was the atmosphere during the prayer time. During the pledge, there was also a little disrespect. Many people turned their backs or shouted during the pledge, dishonoring the time.
Ed: Were there other factors that came into this? Many people remember the Democrats supposedly booing during the DNC when in reality the booing was because of other issues. Did something similar happen here? Or were they actually booing you for praying?
Michael: Many who came seemed to have some honest concerns. Certainly, people had strong political opinions. I think it was an organized protest at least in large measure. Some people were coming I believe not to have a dialogue and a conversation with Senator Cassidy, but were there to be as outrageous as possible and make these town hall meetings look like chaos.
Definitely, however, the highest point of intensity in the entire program was the reaction when I prayed in Jesus’ name.