Barry C. Black, the Chaplain of the US Senate in a somber and carefully-crafted opening prayer tried to soothe and guide the direction of the petulant, squabbling children pretending to be US Members of Congress during the October 1, 2013 and continued Federal Government shutdown.
In a low, sonorous voice, measured and deliberate considering the importance of this august group of Congressional leaders, he prayed to God for guidance. Unfortunately, instead of trying to act like statesmen and women, Congress, especially Representative John Boehner, acted like participants in a play pen at a Captain Kangaroo TV taping (1955 – 1992).
Black prayed for a solution to the impassable/impossible task into which the Tea Party Rethuglican (sorry – Republican) Representatives had placed Congress by trying to pass a bill that combined two dissimilar elements.
Add oil to water and they do not mix. Add a House-sponsored defunding section of an already passed lawful health care program to the continued functioning of the US Government, and they do not mix. Nor should they.
The funding of the government and the attempted hijacking (sorry – defunding) of a previously passed (both Houses), Supreme Court approved, Affordable Care Act have nothing to do with each other.
I guess that the prayer from the Seventh Day Adventist Reverend Black did not work. Of course not. Prayer never does - anywhere, anytime, anyway.
We have not heard much from the Jesuit Priest, Father Patrick J. Conroy, Chaplain of the House of Representatives despite his $172,000 annual salary. You would think that he could muster up a few words or prayers (oh, right, they don’t work!) for that kind of salary.
But before this becomes a political column instead of a religiously skeptical one, there is another large question here. Why do we have chaplains at all in the US government, particularly the Senate and House of Representatives? WHY?
Why should we even have Senate Chaplain Black with his $155,000 annual salary and his $415,000 annual expenses for staff, office and other expenses? Why should we have a similar Chaplain for the House of Representatives?
After all, the only way that we can preserve that freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment is to have a completely secular government. That means no chaplains in any part of the federal, state, or county governments.
The money saved would be less than a pittance per person, but the principles currently sacrificed for these chaplain positions is huge.
After all, the duties for these Congressional chaplain positions are nonsense or redundant. First, they are supposed to thank God for all the things that he gives us, has done for us, and for the rest of the world. Excuse me, but there are those of us skeptics and such who think that God can’t do anything, or has really, really slacked off in this regard.
Chaplains are also supposed to provide guidance and religious aid to members of Congress, their staff and families. Excuse me, but should that not come from the pastors, priests, imams, rabbis and such of each respective family? Why are you and I paying for this?
Would Baptists want a Catholic priest to guide them about religious quandaries? Would a Jew accept family therapy from a Muslim Imam? Would a Hindu want help from a Mormon minister?
Let’s cut to the chase and cut out all this crap about chaplains in Congress or any part of government. I don’t want to pay – and should not have to pay – for personal religious guidance in Congress. You should not be asked to pay for this for anyone else either.