- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Many of Iowa’s House lawmakers opted to skip a prayer offered by a member of the Wiccan faith.

The prayer Thursday by Deborah Maynard, a Wiccan from Cedar Rapids, was a break from tradition. Cedar Rapids Democratic Rep. Liz Bennett, who invited Maynard, says she thinks it was the first time a Wiccan gave the invocation.

The prayer is typically handled by religious leaders or citizens invited by lawmakers.

At least half the 100 lawmakers were not present in the House chamber. The Christian conservative group the Family Leader organized an alternate prayer service in the Capitol.

In a one-minute prayer, Maynard said she hoped lawmakers would be “passionate about the work” and seek to find “thoughtful solutions.”

The Wiccan religion is shaped by pagan beliefs and practices.

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