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continental-congress first prayer in congress

Agriculture Chair Won’t Cowtow to Left

By Tony Perkins

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask…” In these challenging times, no one needs more guidance in their jobs than our leaders. Sadly, the Left is doing everything it can to keep them from asking for it! In the House Agricultural Committee, the majority party is acknowledging that someone else is in control: God.

As proof of the change that Congress has undergone since the last election, Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) has decided to kick off every meeting with a prayer. “We’ve got a lot of meaty things to deliberate on,” Rep. Conaway told reporters, “and invoking God’s wisdom and guidance on our deliberations is, I think, the proper thing to do.”

Of course, not everyone agrees. National atheist groups are convulsing over the idea, which — the Supreme Court ruled last year — is perfectly constitutional. With the chisel of political correctness slowly chipping away at the First Amendment, the justices agreed that it was entirely within a legislature’s rights to ask for God’s blessing — as long as no one is forced to join. And if opening prayer is good enough for Greece, New York, then surely it’s good enough for the U.S. Congress!

Despite all of this, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is desperately looking for a way to shoot down Conaway’s tradition, insisting that it’s time “to reassess the concept of civil religion.” Rob Boston, one of the group’s spokesmen, had a tough time making any legal arguments stick, so he resorted to politics. “The best we can say is that this kind of praying isn’t all that religious, but just a public display of piety to score political points. Still, it sends a message of exclusion to people who aren’t of the same faith as the person praying.”

Frankly, with all that’s going on in the world, we should be glad that Congress is asking for guidance of any kind! And it’s not as if the idea is unprecedented. Former Congressman Todd Akin used to open each Subcommittee meeting with a prayer that he offered. When liberals tried to make an issue of it, the Missouri Presbyterian just brushed it off. “We start Congress with a prayer, and I think it’s a good idea to ask the Lord’s blessing,” he told Roll Call. “It gives us a sense of being respectful to each other.”

At a time when so many people’s beliefs are under attack, is there any better display of the religious freedom we’re fighting for? I’m thankful for leaders like Conaway, who recognize that bowing to God is more important than bowing to political correctness.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)


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