Lawmakers Protest Prayer in Colorado Senate

About six lawmakers walked out during the morning Senate prayer Tuesday after a Greeley pastor gave an invocation they characterized as offensive.

Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, who invited the pastor, later apologized to fellow lawmakers for remarks the pastor made that he said were inappropriate.

Both legislative houses start each day with a prayer that is supposed to be non-denominational and nonpolitical.

On Tuesday, the Rev. David Meek of the Glad Tidings Church prayed for God's help in overturning Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in the United States.

"I pray Lord, help this great state of Colorado to be a leader, to be a real leader, Lord Jesus, and Lord, even to reverse the Roe vs. Wade so we can stop the killing and murder of the innocent little babies," he told the senators.

Meek also urged lawmakers to accept Jesus.

Among those who walked out were Sens. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora; Penfield Tate, D-Denver; Stephanie Takis, D-Commerce City; and Mary Ellen Epps, R-Colorado Springs.

"I don't think it's appropriate for someone to lecture us on Roe vs. Wade in a prayer," Hagedorn said.

Epps said she walked out because of remarks that were belittling to women.

Meek did not return two telephone messages seeking comment that were left at Meek's home and church.

When Hagedorn was a state representative, House guidelines were set up for visiting religious leaders after protests were filed over prayers some lawmakers felt were inappropriate.

"I assumed they had the same guidelines in the Senate, but apparently not. We have to respect religious diversity," Hagedorn said.

"That wasn't a prayer. I felt he used it for his own political views," said Takis.

Owen said he invited Meek because he was a military veteran and gave invocations at his American Legion post.

"He asked if he could come down, and I said sure. I'm apologizing to anyone who was offended," Owen said.