(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Cory Booker’s grilling of Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo on the subject of homosexuality generated excitement on mainstream and social media Thursday, but the words that began the exchange evidently date back to a prayer delivered at the opening of the Kansas state legislature 20 years ago.
At his nomination hearing, Pompeo reaffirmed his long-held opposition to same-sex marriage, but he did not answer directly when asked several times by Booker whether he believes “gay sex is a perversion.”
He did say that in his current post as director of the CIA, he had not treated married same-sex couples differently from others.
“We have, I believe it’s the case, we have married gay couples at the CIA. You should know, I treated them with the exact same set of rights—” Pompeo said before being interrupted by the New Jersey Democrat.
“Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion? Yes or no?
“Senator, if I can—”
“Yes or no, sir. Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion, 'cause it’s what you’ve said here in one of your speeches? Yes or no, do you believe gay sex is a perversion?”
“Senator, I’m going to give you same answer I just gave you previously. My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same.”
Booker opened the line of questioning by quoting from what he said was a speech Pompeo had given, in which he referred to an America that “endorses perversion and calls it an alternative lifestyle.”
He did not give further details of the speech.
In June 2015, Pompeo gave an address at an evangelical church in Wichita, during which the then-congressman from Kansas quoted from a prayer delivered by the church’s senior pastor, Joe Wright, almost 20 years earlier, at the opening of the state’s legislature.
Quoted by Pompeo, Wright’s prayer included the lines: “We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism. We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle …”
Pompeo, who was speaking in Wichita shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that same-sex marriage is a right – said he thought Wright’s prayer was “so fitting for where we find ourselves today.”
Wright’s prayer caused a stir at the time and in the months that followed. According to a Washington Post article published four months later – headlined “Stark prayer sparks an absolute political furor” – some legislators walked out both during the prayer in Kansas, and when it was read out later in Colorado’s state legislature.
That report and others said Wright’s church had fielded thousands of calls from around the nation and abroad, and that the prayer had been read out on radio stations and from pulpits across America.
“I’m a preacher at an evangelical church,” the Post quoted Wright as saying. “What else would they expect from me? I don’t know if they were just looking for platitudes or a ‘To whom it may concern’ kind of prayer. But there are absolutes, and God has called me to preach the truth. Naturally, any time you preach absolutes, you’re going to offend some people.”
The full prayer delivered by Wright to the Kansas House of Representatives on January 23, 1996 follows:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. Lord, we know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will.
I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ.