BY MICHELE VAN HESSEN – The House Republican caucus has led the effort to keep invocations a part of the daily legislative sessions in the Hawai`i State House following the ending of the practice in the State Senate.
“Our caucus feels very strongly about preserving the tradition of the invocation before our floor sessions. To get rid of the tradition would be a disservice to our state and national heritage,” said Rep. Gene Ward, Republican Leader.
Earlier today the State House of Representatives voted to allow invocations prior to the opening of each legislative session while adopting its operating rules. The rules language closely mirror suggestions made by the 8 members of the House Republican Caucus.
“We must never take our First Amendment rights lightly. We have kept intact the rights of all beliefs. This First Amendment practice began with the first Continental Congress (1774), and today, the 200-year-old tradition is still considered valid based on the foundation established by the first legislators,” said Rep. Kymberly Pine, Floor Leader.
This most recent discussion was spurred by the State Senate’s decision to end the practice of invocations following lawsuits against the practice. Today, the State House voted to amend their rules to clarify that participation is voluntary, but still allow the tradition to continue.
“We are very pleased that Hawai’i’s legislature’s practice of opening its sessions with an invocation will continue. This ongoing tradition has always been an opportunity for this body to celebrate a diversity of opinions and beliefs, and we look forward to many more years of inspiring invocations,” said Rep. Corinne Ching, Assistant Floor Leader.
“Spiritual guidance has been sought by leaders throughout the centuries. Just because we work within the confines of the State Capitol does not mean we should relinquish our right to call on a higher being to guide and protect us,” noted Rep. George Fontaine.
The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere.
For further information on the House Republican Caucus, please click here.