Port: Two North Dakota senators turned their backs on a prayer calling for love and unity


MINOT, N.D. — Back in early February, the Rev. Dr. Leanne Simmons, pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Bismarck, delivered an invocation to the state Senate. This is routine stuff. The two legislative chambers begin each day’s floor activities with prayer, with a rotating cast of religious leaders brought in from across the state and across the faiths, to lead them.

The invocation from Dr. Simmons was standard stuff. A call for wisdom and unity and divine guidance, but it left a couple of the senators chapped to the point where they turned their backs on Simmons during the prayer.

“Creator of the universe and all people therein, you who formed humankind in your image, placing them in this world in all their diversity — differing colors, genders, races, ethnicities and language, we praise you for the splendor of your creation and the love that motivated your hand on this Earth,” Dr. Simmons said as Republican Sens. Mike Wobbema, from Valley City, and Janne Myrdal, from Edinburg, first looked at one another, and then turned to face away from the rostrum where Simmons was speaking.

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