Friday, February 17, 2006

Bosma Rapped Over Offensive Comments To Jewish Group At State House

House Speaker Brian Bosma stumbled badly when he spoke dismissingly of the concerns of Jewish voters over his zealous pursuit of the right to conduct Christian only prayers at the opening of business for the House of Representatives while addressing the Indianapolis Jewish Relations Committee at the State House according to an e-mail account of one of the attendees.

Defending Christian prayers in the House, Bosma shockingly asked the assembled Jewish group this jaw-dropping question: "How many Jews are there in Indiana? About 2%? There are at least 80% Christians in Indiana."

Oddly, noone in the group brought up the matter of the prayer issue, which is currently on appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after Judge David Hamilton ordered the House to refrain from conducting Christian only, sectarian prayers. Instead, Bosma raised the issue to the group on his own. The House's only Jewish member, Rep. David Orentlicher (R-Indianapolis), has been very vocal in his criticism of the way Speaker Bosma has handled the issue. He walked out of the House of Representatives last year when Speaker Bosma allowed a Christian minister to lead the House in singing a Christian song.

A hat tip to Masson's Blog for picking up on a post at the Daily Pulse reporting on the incident. The Daily Pulse, with the permission of the writer, posted an e-mail one of the attendees sent describing the disturbing encounter with Speaker Bosma, which can be found below.

This incident raises serious questions about Speaker Bosma's fitness to serve as Speaker for all of the people. He's already demonstrated his legislative zeal in making sure that gays and lesbians are treated in this state as second class citizens. Now others are rightfully wondering if their rights are safe as well.

Bosma's comments are a complete embarrassment to all Hoosiers.

The e-mail read as follows:

Last Tuesday, the Indianapolis JCRC’s Jewish Lobby Day was held. Around 40 Jews from around the State of Indiana came to Indianapolis to lobby our state senators and representatives on a number of issues.

The day ended with a private meeting with Speaker of the House Bosma meeting our group in the beautiful House chambers. We asked questions about full day kindergarten, about the clinics, and a young member of the delegation asked about providing sexuality education in public schools that is more than abstinence based. He responded to everything we asked. Sometimes we liked what he said and sometimes we didn’t. Speaker Bosma wondered why we hadn’t discussed the controversy surrounding the issue of prayer in House chambers. He told us his version of what happened and what he believes, and a passionate exchange took place. The end of this exchange left us, the Jewish delegation, in shock. Speaker Bosma, defending the prayer issue, asked, “How many Jews are there in Indiana? About 2%? There are at least 80% Christians in Indiana.” The implication of this statement was that our minority community doesn’t and shouldn’t have any say or any voice. It is about the majority and what the majority wants. The jaws of the delegation dropped to the floor. We were speechless. Everything we believed about this country had just been trampled. Gone was the belief of the constitutional protection of minorities. Gone was not feeling marginalized. Gone was the belief we were not strangers in this country. I am sure that Speaker Bosma is a fine man, but in that moment, for the first time in my life as a citizen of this country, I was scared. It is what I now call the 2% solution (and Jews are much less than 2% of this state) that if you are only 2% don’t even bother to speak up as the “Tyranny of the majority” will prevail.

I am sorry to bring such a depressing message as we prepare for Shabbat, but it needs to be said and addressed. I have been reminded about why we need to be vigilant. So I come to you on this Friday, February 17, 2006, to ask you to use this Shabbat to think about joining me and others at times to raise our voices. We might not agree on all the issues, but we agree that as Jewish residents of this State we should have a voice. 2% or less shouldn’t matter. It is not about the majority. It is about us. As you light your Shabbat candles this evening, light one for this great nation that has allowed us to grow and prosper and worship as Jews without restrictions. Light the other as beacon to our elected officials who if they follow the light will understand that leadership comes with responsibility to all, to be inclusive of all, and to help those who need the most help.

Shabbat Shalom


dhonig said...

Thak you for picking this up.

FYI- I've added this site to mt Indiana links over at The Daily Pulse. Also, we're still lookong for a few front page contributors if anybody is interested in doing some editirial surveys.

dhonig said...

A new cartoon is here-

Anonymous said...

It's too bad we won't see this cartoon in any mainstream Hoosier papers, but we'll see Gary Barfbag,er Varvel, Henry Pain and Mark Coomer's snarky defensiveness.

Anonymous said...

Rep. David Orentlicher is a Democrat, not a Republican. He is one of the brightest lights in the House.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for the correction anonymous--I don't know how I made that mistake. I know David wouldn't want to be called a Republican.

dhonig said...

People responded to this story, and they responded in droves. Apparently, the e-mail was so overwhelming that Bosma felt he had to respond, and yesterday he apologized to the Jewish Community in a personal meeting with leaders, and on the 6 O'Clock news.

Well, lots of people asked if he was being challenged, and how to help. I'm thrilled to announce that he is being challenged, and by the President of the Hamilton County Democrats, Susan Fuldauer. She just announced this weekend and is still getting her website off the ground. If you want to help, here's some information:

Contributions can be made to the following:
Committee to Elect Susan Fuldauer, 6284 Rucker Rd., Suite A, Indpls., IN 46220

Vote Susan should be up and running and have some additional methods for contribution working by next week.