At the start of each session of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, a chaplain or visiting preacher is asked to provide a prayer. This has been standard practice since the earliest days of our nation’s history. In fact, Government Chaplains are on the federal payroll. Several Georgia pastors have been invited to pray before Congressional sessions.
History shows that the Reverend William Linn is often identified as one of the earliest chaplains to carry on the tradition established by the Continental Congress. History also shows that initially the two chaplains often alternated their duties between the House and the Senate and also conducted Sunday church services for the Washington community in the House charmers. During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency he noted that he often attended these services and others held in government facilities.
This tradition is often challenged by various anti-religion and separation church and state groups. Federal courts consistently uphold the practice and allow the Congress to continue to open its sessions with prayer and to pick who they wish to lead the prayer.
It is also interesting that the Supreme Court opens each of its sessions with its traditional opening, “God save the United States and this honorable court.” Anti-religious advocates often say this is not a prayer. However, invoking the name of God has forever been considered a prayer.
Follow on with the fact that our national moto is “In God We Trust” and the Declaration of Independence makes numerous mentions of a supreme being.
In a 1983 speech, President Ronald Reagan stated, “If we can open our governments legislative and our judicial actions with prayer then I just happen to believe that school children of the United States are entitled to the same privileges.” I agree completely.
Separation of church and state can only be validated in a convoluted opinion by a Supreme Court justice who twisted a personal letter to justify his warped ruling. It is time to reinstate morality in our schools and our government.
Quentin M. Thomas
Colonel, USAF (Ret.)