AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage and other top Republicans called on Mainers to pray Tuesday as they announced the formation of the Maine Legislative Prayer Caucus.

The caucus is affiliated with Pray USA, an initiative of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation Inc., which seeks to “preserve the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation and protect American religious liberty.”

More than 150 people, including about 50 legislators — mostly Republicans and a few Democrats — participated in a ceremony to announce that Maine is the sixth state to formalize a legislative prayer group. Maine legislators have informally gathered to pray since the 1940s, and now have taken steps to become a more formal group, said Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting.

The prayer caucus meets once a week and does not discuss policy or bills. The goal is to be nonpartisan; the group prays for fellow legislators and other state and national leaders, according to the House Majority Office.

LePage said that when he was in Quebec, he noticed a crucifix on a wall in one of the legislative chambers.

“The separation of church and state is not a separation from public life,” he said. “Always, our courts are taking symbols of religion out of our public house, but they can’t take religion out of our hearts.”

Attorney General William Schneider, a Republican, talked about the national conversation sparked by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who made headlines this football season for his public displays of faith.

“What Tim Tebow says in prayer, whether alone in the locker room or on the field in front of millions, and what he hears in prayer, is a matter of individual freedom,” Schneider said. “The same is true for presidential candidates in an election year.”

Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, said people turn to prayer in times of crisis, joy and fear.

“Let us keep in mind this nation’s founders placed such importance on prayer and God’s role in the life of our fledgling experiment in democracy that it was not only enshrined in the Constitution, it was the first amendment thereto,” he said.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, said despite arguments over “whether a Christmas tree can be called a Christmas tree,” the U.S. is not a secular nation.

“History tells us there is every indication that the individuals who were most influential in shaping this great nation often turned to God for guidance,” he said.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.