Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is public prayer a worse political scandal than prostitution, kickbacks, or underage affairs?

[I think this is one of the saddest posts I’ve ever made. I can’t believe we are this far down the secular rabbit hole. – JS]


Is there a worse political scandal than prostitution, kickbacks, or underage affairs? Liberals think so. It's called public prayer, and Congressman Todd Akin (R-Mo.) has been engaging in it for years. As Chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee, the six-term Representative is catching flak for trying to strike a more civil tone at the start of his meetings. "We start Congress with a prayer," Rep. Akin said, "and I think it's a good idea to ask the Lord's blessing. It gives us a sense of being respectful to each other." And if anyone's qualified to pray, it's Congressman Akin. The Missouri leader is not only a member of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, but he happens to have a divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary.

And if his prayers are controversial, that's news to his subcommittee -- which has never complained about the tradition. As Akin said, the prayers "are personal, and others can pray to whomever they like." Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), one of the 20 members on the Seapower and Projection Force team, says, "I respect how the chair wants to conduct his subcommittee." Unfortunately, other members don't share that same deference. New Jersey's Rep. Robert Andrews (D), who doesn't serve on the committee or have first-hand knowledge of Akin's prayers, complained that, "Any prayer that starts an official public meeting that pertains to any one particular religion is probably not in good judgment."

Tell that to every U.S. President since Franklin Roosevelt, who each invoked Christian prayers -- many in Jesus's name (including President Obama's) -- on America's grandest and most significant stage: the presidential inauguration. To my knowledge, no one huffed off the stands in offense. " In construing the Constitution," Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "a page of history is worth a volume of logic." In this case, Rep. Akin has history and logic on his side. If Jesus can be invoked at the highest state occasion of our republic, how can it be banned from a simple congressional hearing? Our source at the House Chaplains office said that Jesus's name was invoked as recently as yesterday during the opening prayer. (You can read it here.)

Yet Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State insists, "The fact that he says, 'I pray' really does not negate the fact that this is a public prayer in a public space in a public event sponsored by and promoted by a public official..." Once again, people like Lynn are trying to invent religious conflicts without a shred of constitutional support. And given the significant problems facing our country, is this really a debate worth having? Considering the real scandals rocking our country, I think a lot of us would agree -- the government could use a little more prayer. Where would the GSA or Secret Service be if they'd had a Todd Akin asking God to "help us be wise, help us be good planners, and good stewards?" It's never too late to find out!