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Old 06-23-2008, 08:20 PM
 
415 posts, read 513,180 times
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The purpose of this thread is to investigate, discuss and debate whether or not the First U. S. Congress opened its daily sessions with prayer, as is often claimed. After years of searching the historical records of the First U. S. Congress and finding no evidence of,
House or Senate resolutions, during the First U. S. Congress, ordering a daily opening prayer

The Chaplains to Congress ever being assigned any regular daily duties by either chamber of the First U. S. Congress, or

Opening prayers recorded in the House or Senate Journals of the First U. S. Congress, the Senate Executive Journal of the First U. S. Congress, Maclay's Journal or the Annals of Congress of the First U. S. Congress,
I am convinced that there is not much, if any, credible historical evidence to support the claim that the First U. S. Congress opened its sessions with prayer.
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Old 06-24-2008, 07:43 PM
 
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There was a period beginning in 1774, before our official beginning as an independent republic, that the Continental Congress had a tradition of opening with prayer. In July 1776, a clergyman was elected Chaplain of Congress, but he resigned soon after. Claims have been made that the Constitutional Convention opened each day with prayer, but they have been unproven.

It's true that Benjamin Franklin urged the delegates to open their sessions with prayer at the Constitutional convention of 1787, but the delegates thought it was fraught with too many difficulties in a pluralistic society and voted to adjourn without further discussion. The matter was never brought up again.

Since the Constitution was drawn as a secular document, it's transparent that the founders' intent was to steer a course that would preclude government intrusion into church affairs and vice versa. But over time, the line has become blurred and there remains a valid question about the constitutionality of a taxpayer-supported congressional chaplaincy in a country that espouses separation of church and state.
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Old 06-25-2008, 06:31 AM
 
415 posts, read 513,180 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Walmsley View Post
...there remains a valid question about the constitutionality of a taxpayer-supported congressional chaplaincy in a country that espouses separation of church and state.
In retrospect, it appears the First U. S. Congress was foolish to establish the two Congressional religions, which became one of the means most often exploited by the enemies of Christ in their evil schemes to undermine his sacred directive for his people to totally separate religion from civil authority.
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:35 AM
 
594 posts, read 1,493,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashTheCash View Post
In retrospect, it appears the First U. S. Congress was foolish to establish the two Congressional religions, which became one of the means most often exploited by the enemies of Christ in their evil schemes to undermine his sacred directive for his people to totally separate religion from civil authority.
Aside from the question of the constitutionality of congressional chaplains, there lingers the unpleasant odor of bias when religion and politics are mixed. Such was the case in 1999 when a Catholic priest, Rev. Timothy O'Brien, was being considered for chaplaincy of the House. When O'Brien, reportedly the "overwhelming favorite," was rejected in favor of a Presbyterian minister there were angry outcries of bias, according to a National Review article by Kate O'Beirne of December 31, 1999.

I reference this article only to point out the fallacy of departing from the founders' intent to keep religion and politics separate. I may have strayed from the original subject, but any move to merge religion and politics -- be it chaplaincies or the more recent "faith-based initiatives" -- is to embark downward on a slippery slope. As James Madison said, "The civil government ... functions with complete success ... by the total separation of the Church from the state." -- James Madison, 1819, Writings
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:47 PM
Status: "Travel is fatal to prejudice bigotry and narrow mindedness" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
18,197 posts, read 18,448,602 times
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I for one look forward to initiatives put forward by courageous freethinking members of Congress to end the shocking slip downward into Popery and rampant religiosity which characterizes so much of what our government does.

I do not, however, intend to hold my breath until this occurs.
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