Nebraska Lawmakers Object to Pastor’s Prayer Condemning Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nebraska Lawmakers Object to Pastor’s Prayer Condemning Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 25, 2006

Lincoln, NE ( — Some Nebraska lawmakers are upset about a pastor’s prayer that opened this year’s legislative session. Tom Swartley of First Christian Church in Elm Creek delivered the prayer, which asked God for forgiveness for the nation having legalized abortion.

He called abortion a "33-year-long, bloody nightmare."

"We go to work and school and come home and watch TV while genocide, infanticide and homicide is being committed against our own children," he said.

Prayers in state legislatures are normally non-controversial and ask for guidance and wisdom for lawmakers and for help for things like bad weather or high crime.

Swartley said he didn’t intend to offend anyone but felt it was proper to speak out about important moral issues.

However, Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, a longtime abortion advocate who has been responsible for sabotaging numerous pro-life bills, objected.

He called the comments in the prayer, "divisive, insulting and wrong."

Despite his complaints, Chambers wasn’t in the legislative chambers during the prayer because he refuses to be present during them. He renewed his call for legislative prayers to be abolished.

Still, he told the Associated Press, "I have not been as enraged and furious in the Legislature as I am this morning."

Swartley told AP he did not intend to break legislative rules on prayers and felt he had compiled. He said he read the guidelines for prayer and felt that speaking about abortion would not violate them.

"I was praying to moral issues. I was not endorsing a candidate or political party," he said.

"I feel bad about the turmoil, but I don’t feel bad about my convictions, which are based on the Bible," he told AP.

Sen. Jim Cudaback of Riverdale invited Swartley and he said the pastor crossed the line of what is appropriate content for a legislative prayer.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your elected member of the Nebraska legislature by going to and tell them you support Swartley’s prayer.