State officials headline National Day of Prayer event in Topeka
TOPEKA — Bowing his head in prayer, Rep. Bill Rhiley asked God to sway journalists into Christian reporting during a Thursday prayer ceremony. He was one of several Statehouse Republicans who attended the ceremony to pray for more Godly influence in society at large.
“On this National Day of Prayer, grant that the people of media, social media and entertainment media may be used for your works and good,” Rhiley said, standing near a large banner that read “Kansas for Jesus.” “These forms of media, TV, radio, movies, email, newspapers and the Internet have betrayed your trust and truth and created turmoil amongst your people. We offer our prayers that you may inspire through your whole spirit, the people of the media to use their gifts that you have given them, to know and respect the truth.”
Rep. Emil Bergquist, a Park City Republican, along with state Treasurer Steven Johnson and Kansas State Board of Education member Danny Zeck, also led prayers at the National Day of Prayer event in the Statehouse,
Prayer topics included politics, family life, news media, government and education.
Bergquist, who said his prayer was for himself and his colleagues, said some House lawmakers had suffered “the persecution that happens when you stand up for truth.”
In an interview after the event, Bergquist said he wasn’t referring to any specific event or legislation when referring to “persecution,” but he knew that lawmakers experienced pushback when standing up for their beliefs.
“There’s a time in every day to take a stand for the Lord,” Bergquist said during his prayer. “There’s a lot of folks in this house who love the Lord.”
The event comes after rising concern from Kansans who believe religion has seeped into the state’s lawmaking process, particularly among Republicans. Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican, recently offered to convert a Muslim woman and also a reporter to Christianity when asked how he represented his non-Christian constituents.
Rep. Kristey Williams, an Augusta Republican involved in K-12 education budget allocations, has spent the legislative session pushing for a voucher program that would give unregulated private school funding state tax dollars, telling a local forum that “there are some kids that do need Jesus first.”
In his prayer, Zeck asked for more accountability in school communities.
“Please pour your wisdom into each of our administrators, teachers, support staff and local school board members,” Zeck said.
Several members of the audience, who followed along in song and prayer, expressed their support of that message.
Vince Bateman, a Kansan who attended the event wearing biblical garb, said it was difficult to catch people’s attention in the age of social media. Bateman said he used his outfit as a conversation starter in his ministry efforts.
“So many people are caught up in phones, so their attention spans are very short, and to go out and preach the gospel nowadays, it’s so hard to do because you have split seconds,” Bateman said.
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