Check into the Internet for information on the Chaplains of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and you find a lot of disturbing things.
First, why do we have to have two chaplains – Seventh Day Adventist Rev. Barry Black for the Senate and Jesuit Priest Father Patrick J. Conroy for the House? We couldn’t economize and have one chaplain for both Houses of Congress? After all, with chaplain salaries of $172,000 for the House and $155,000 for the Senate and a $415,000 expense allowance, there would be a few bucks saved here.
But there’s more.
Checking the Internet shows some scary things about the duties of each chaplain. The scariest is perhaps the one that states: “To meet representatives of other nations to discuss how religion and politics interface on Capitol Hill.”
First of all, there are supposed to be no religious activities within this secular USA government. When representatives of other nations come here, I want them to meet with the appropriate governmental agencies and people without any religious agenda.
We have - or are supposed to have – a clear separation of church and state, with ample evidence of this from our Founding Fathers and foundational history.
We are not a theocracy, despite the attempts of George Bush in this direction. As a result, we do not have the religious infighting, riots, mobs, protests, coup attempts, revolutions, killings, unfair ritual punishments, and maimings on a religious basis found in countries with theocratic governments.
In addition to this edict to meet with other governments for religious purposes, we have other problems with the duties of Congressional Chaplains. These in themselves are flagrant violations of the secular foundation of our democratic/representative form of government.
For example, another duty is to offer counsel to Members of Congress, their staff and families. If these people need counsel of any type, should it not be secular if dealing with the government or paid for by the individuals involved if needed on a personal basis?
Others have to pay out-of-pocket or through insurance for therapy and guidance for marital help, family guidance, addiction problems, advice on wayward children, etc. Why should we as taxpayers pay for this for Congress and staff?
Chaplains are also to provide answers to religious questions and research information about religious organizations and services in the area of Capitol Hill.
Wait a minute. The individual churches, cathedrals, mosques or temples should be providing any needed information about religious organizations to government employees. And the same should apply to members of Congress or staff needing religious information.
Another duty is to sponsor occasional activities of a religious nature for Members of Congress and staff. Barry Black, Chaplain of the Senate, elaborated on this on a recent TV show. He noted that he has Bible study for Congress and also prayer breakfasts. But – but – but – should this not all come from an individual’s own religious faith or sect? Why are you and I paying for this?
Some of the duties described are just pure puffery. After all, to receive religious leaders of this and other nations, to develop interfaith dialogues and to encourage religious interfacing are all part of the same thing, opined in different ways.
It is about time that we as a nation grew up and put on our big-boy pants. In government we should eliminate religion along with the fiction and fables of the 1st Century in our goal to become adult and live in the 21st Century in government, science and life.