Rev. Anna Blaedel

Rev. Anna Blaedel, an openly gay United Methodist chaplain at the University of Iowa and “theologian-in-residence” with Enfleshed, gave the invocation in the Iowa Senate chambers on Thursday morning.

She was invited to give the opening prayer by Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, and to call her prayer controversial would be an understatement. 

Caffeinated Thoughts readers may remember that Blaedel was required to take unpaid leave over a settlement with the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church after being accused of violating church doctrine by being a “self-avowed, practicing homosexual.” 

That settlement, however, exhibited moral confusion on the part of Iowa’s United Methodist leadership, and Blaedel showed further moral and biblical ambiguity through her invocation.

Her invocation reminded me of the controversial invocation provided by Rev. Joe Wright of Central Christian Church of Wichita before the Kansas House of Representatives in 1996. It captured the attention of the national media. 

Blaedel’s invocation was the leftist version of that, and as far as I can see, there has not been any attention given to it by the local media and certainly not by the national press.

I suppose we have become desensitized by such things in the last 23 years, but I can’t help but think if the shoe were on the other foot, that wouldn’t be the case. 

Listen to Thursday’s Iowa Senate invocation:

Blaedel started by addressing those who may be listening.

“Dear ones, believers and atheists and agnostics alike, you Jesus followers and loving-kindness meditators, we who find our guidance through science and scripture and ethics and poetry and dreams. We who seek out gurdwaras and mosques and temples and shuls. We who need and offer sanctuary. We who encounter God and goodness on combines and in care centers while braiding our children’s hair and shoveling our neighbors’ walks and restoring our ancestral prairies while holding prayer vigils and hosting needle exchanges. Our very lives are bound up with each other,” she said (we haven’t even got to the actual prayer yet).

I’m glad she covered everybody. I mean, I don’t think anyone was missed. She included the faithful and faithless, farmers, mothers, and the drug-addicted, and more. Coupling prayer vigils and needle exchanges together? So is she saying seeking solace and comfort through prayer and drugs is the same thing? 

Blaedel goes on a little longer and then says, “let us pray.”

She then later asks for God/spiritual life force/whoever she is praying to grant, for the most part, the Democratic party platform. 

“May we labor together until your truths are reflected in our collective, common, shared life until all black lives truly matter, the water of life is protected as earth’s lifeblood and our most basic common need, and the human right of health care is affordable and accessible until we measure our success as leaders and legislators by how the least of these are doing until the rich stops getting richer because the poor keep getting poorer… and women and queer folk and trans folk are trusted to know best what we need in and for our own bodies and families and lives because we, we belong to each other,” she prayed. 

Needless to say, if I were a state senator, I would not be able to join Blaedel in that prayer. She seemed more interested in flowery speech and a progressive agenda than asking God for wisdom, guidance, and protection for those in the chamber.

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