METAIRIE, La. — Some attendees of a town hall meeting in Metairie, Louisiana came unhinged on Wednesday as they shouted down a chaplain who sought to present a prayer in the name of Jesus.
According to reports, members of a group called Indivisible, which opposes President Trump, attended the town hall meeting led by Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, just as many liberal protesters have been doing in recent weeks across the country.
An overflow crowd packed the East Jefferson Parish Library, far exceeding the expected 100 participants that usually turn out for town hall events. The gathering wasn’t supposed to start until 3:30 p.m., but some arrived as early as 11:30 a.m. and waited for several hours for their chance to vent.
Cassidy had scheduled the meeting to talk to constituents about issues such as healthcare, the economy and immigration, and the crowd was even more wound up as the senator didn’t arrive until near 4 p.m. due to spending the afternoon surveying tornado damage in New Orleans.
However, when Louisiana State Chaplain Michael Sprague of the Capitol Commission of Louisiana announced that he would be opening the gathering with prayer, the room became especially raucous as some in attendance began yelling loudly in opposition, “Prayer?!” and “Separation of Church and State!”
After pausing a moment in surveying the chaos in the room, Sprague began to pray, still being interrupted by protesters who talked through the invocation.
The gathering seemed to quiet down to an extent after several seconds, but as he spoke the words “We pray in Jesus’ name,” the room again erupted in loud shouts of disapproval. Sprague recalled to Christianity Today that there were exclamations of “Lucifer” and that some referred to him as a Nazi.
“Thanks for doing that, Mike,” Cassidy said in taking the podium. “Wow, they booed the name of Jesus.”
The chaplain told conservative reporter Todd Starnes that he’s never been in a situation where he’s seen such disrespect for the things of the Lord.
“I’ve never been shouted down throughout a time of prayer like that,” he stated. “I’ve never been in a situation like that. It’s sad there wasn’t honor and respect for God.”
The shouting continued as a local veteran took the podium to present the Pledge of Allegiance. Video footage shows that a number of attendees refused to stand and yelled throughout the recitation. One woman slapped her legs angrily several times, and another called out “Get on with it (the meeting)!”
The protesters “were terribly intolerant, and those that say they want dialogue, didn’t want dialogue. They only wanted to shout,” Cassidy told reporters. “There were Americans who wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights, but also there were some there to make a scene no matter which way they find them.”
Sprague said that he is not upset that he was shouted down at the town hall meeting, but finds the reaction to be indicative of “the move that is occurring spiritually in our country and our need for a spiritual awakening.”
“People ask me all the time if I am mad at the people seemingly speaking out against God and Jesus. My answer is that I’m not mad, but I am sad that it has come to this in our country,” he outlined.
“We need to remember that Jesus has been booed many, many times and He will be booed again,” Sprague noted. “But when I was praying in the name of Jesus, I was not praying a political prayer or a religious prayer; I was simply praying in the name of a very real person named Jesus who says to love your enemies, care for the poor, and turn the other cheek.”