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Old 05-01-2018, 10:27 PM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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Paul Ryan fired the House Chaplain. Why do we have a House Chaplain?

I'm not anti-religion and I'm not anti-religious people serving in Congress. But, I don't understand why we taxpayers are footing the bill for an official Chaplain for the House of Representatives. I assume that he has a bit of office space somewhere and at least a minimal staff. Someone has to answer the phone and take appointments. Then, he's going to have expenses, pension, and so forth. I assume the Senate has their version of all this, too.

This is the 21st century. I can understand a member of Congress may wish to consult with a pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam for spiritual guidance. So, why can't these members of Congress call their home ministers on the telephone. Here in 2018, we have instant face-to-face communication. Call, Skype, or FaceTime the minister who sees you in church every Sunday when you're home. Call or visit one of the hundreds of ministers who already live and work in the DC area.

Seriously, what do we need this guy for?
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:15 PM
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Because Christians run the country. :-(
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:20 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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It's because of the idle lip service that Americans pay their precious constitution. Supposedly, freedom of religion is supposed to be a big deal there, and supposedly, established religion is supposed to be a big no-no in the US. But in fact established religion is flourishing in the United States, and Americans' freedom of religion is tortured until it says it knows Jesus as its personal savior. That's why there's a House Chaplain.
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Old 05-01-2018, 11:48 PM
Johnny Ace Johnny Ace is offline
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I'm not anti-religion and I'm not anti-religious people serving in Congress. But, I don't understand why we taxpayers are footing the bill for an official Chaplain for the House of Representatives. I assume that he has a bit of office space somewhere and at least a minimal staff. Someone has to answer the phone and take appointments. Then, he's going to have expenses, pension, and so forth. I assume the Senate has their version of all this, too.

This is the 21st century. I can understand a member of Congress may wish to consult with a pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam for spiritual guidance. So, why can't these members of Congress call their home ministers on the telephone. Here in 2018, we have instant face-to-face communication. Call, Skype, or FaceTime the minister who sees you in church every Sunday when you're home. Call or visit one of the hundreds of ministers who already live and work in the DC area.

Seriously, what do we need this guy for?
He has to give the benediction to open Senate sessions...otherwise nothing would get done even sooner.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:26 AM
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OP maybe Ryan thought like you. He just woke up one day and said why do we need a chaplain? and canned him.
Seriously though the Fed's have a bunch of things that are not needed that we tax payers are footing the bill for. Government waste is not new. I am more disturbed by Carsons expensive furniture.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:02 AM
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Seriously, what do we need this guy for?
Serious question:
Why is "tradition" apparently not a sufficient reason for you?

If there is a GOOD reason to change a tradition, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you should think twice before making any changes.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:05 AM
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But people sneakily using taxpayers' money to buy overpriced furniture is a thing that is widely seen as quite bad. Having an official chaplain does sort of seem rather more deeply questionable if it represents a favoured position for some clergyman of one particular religion.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:13 AM
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Serious question:
Why is "tradition" apparently not a sufficient reason for you?
Why should "tradition" be sufficient reason to keep a dubious practice?
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Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
If there is a GOOD reason to change a tradition, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you should think twice before making any changes.
Why? Why should "tradition" go unchallenged?
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:25 AM
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I am waiting on the price tag for that giant parade that's being planned. Seriously? People in Flint, MI need water. Arkansas is full of roads that need work. There's no excuse for blatant mis-use of funds.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:47 AM
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OP maybe Ryan thought like you. He just woke up one day and said why do we need a chaplain? and canned him.
Unfortunately Ryan just fired this particular chaplain; he didn't abolish the office or anything.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Serious question:
Why is "tradition" apparently not a sufficient reason for you?

If there is a GOOD reason to change a tradition, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you should think twice before making any changes.
A lot of people are saying that Ryan sacked Rev. Conroy because the good father was using his sermons to take potshots at Republican policies. Which means that of course the Democrats support this particular Catholic priest, and are opposed to his removal.

Another wrinkle is that Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) has suggested it would be better to have a chaplain who has had children (so he could "connect" with lawmakers, most of whom have children). This is apparently causing something of a rift between Catholics ('cause the Catholic Church is not generally down with priests fathering children) and Evangelicals (whose pastors are normally married men with families).

In other words, shockingly enough, mixing religion with politics is politically and religiously divisive. No one knew this entanglement of church and state could be so complicated!

Oh, wait, we've known that for a couple of centuries.

James Madison:
Quote:
Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative....Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain?1 To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.
1The U.S. Senate has had one Catholic chaplain, in the 1830s, out of over 60 men appointed to the office. The House of Representatives has had two Catholic chaplains (out of over 50 men to hold the office), both since 2000. Note that the Catholic Church is the largest single religious denomination in the United States. And neither house of Congress has ever had, for example, a rabbi as Chaplain of the U.S. Senate or Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. (There have been "guest chaplains" who have displayed rather more diversity.)

Rather than engage in some sort of religious affirmative action about how many Catholics to appoint; and how many "mainline Protestants"; and how many Evangelicals--and what about Jews and Hindus and Muslims, anyway? Or Mormons? Are they not Americans, too?--we would be better off heeding some additional words of James Madison:
Quote:
Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
Our elected representatives should seek whatever "spiritual guidance"--or not--as each individual one of them sees fit, as is the right of every single American. Who your pastor is (or rabbi, or imam) and whether or not you even have a pastor (or rabbi, or imam) is not something that can be put to a majority vote. That doesn't work any better in the House of Representatives than it would in the country as a whole.
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Old 05-02-2018, 02:34 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Another wrinkle is that Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) has suggested it would be better to have a chaplain who has had children (so he could "connect" with lawmakers, most of whom have children). This is apparently causing something of a rift between Catholics ('cause the Catholic Church is not generally down with priests fathering children) and Evangelicals (whose pastors are normally married men with families).
This is very interesting. Speaking out against unmarried clergymen is a dog whistle attack on Catholics. If that's a sign of a bigger trend it will be a major factor in conservative circles.

One of the biggest shifts in modern conservatism was back in the eighties when religious conservatives decided to put their conservatism ahead of their religion. This meant that conservative Protestants, Catholics, and Jews could overlook their religious differences and join together on advancing their common political agenda.

But if the religious coalition breaks down into tribalism and each religious group starts treating the others as rivals rather than colleagues, there will be a major factional fight in conservatism.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:34 AM
Delicious Delicious is offline
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I imagine it's more of a hostage situation: If God wants to smite congress, he's going to have to take out the chaplain too.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:52 AM
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I imagine it's more of a hostage situation: If God wants to smite congress, he's going to have to take out the chaplain too.
Well, I'm reasonably sure that God has quite a bit of smiting experience. I think there are some old books in which he does threaten a lot of smiting.

He could make a song about it:

I smote the Congress
but I did not smite the chaplain too
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:54 AM
Celyn Celyn is offline
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Oh people please, make a song about this. I am too lacking in sleep to do so, but surely it is a most holy and religious duty?
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:27 AM
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It isn't just Congress. A lot of law enforcement agencies have chaplains too. Mine does.

But it's an LTE position (Limited Term Employment). Low pay, no benefits or retirement, and no representation. The guy can be terminated on a whim.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:38 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is offline
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Serious question:
Why is "tradition" apparently not a sufficient reason for you?

If there is a GOOD reason to change a tradition, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you should think twice before making any changes.

I thought it should be abolished. But then, out of deference to you, I thought twice.

I still think it should be abolished, of course. But I made sure to think twice.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:03 AM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
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It isn't just Congress. A lot of law enforcement agencies have chaplains too. Mine does.
Some publically funded hospitals have them, as well.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:21 AM
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Who knows, they might have a telegraph operator on the payroll, too. Perhaps the chaplain conveys the forgiveness of God unto Congressmen for committing adultery and being uncharitable if they would only continue to put roadblocks in front of women seeking abortion. The congressmen are terrified of their Bible-thumping voters who might get their panties in a twist if they didn't see their elected officials somberly starting each session with a prayer. Want to end the tradition? Hire a Muslim chaplain and watch the Bible Belt descend into unrest, rioting, looting, and arson.

I don't have a problem with a public hospital having a chaplain. Many people there are quite distraught and need comforting. Congressmen don't need comforting, they need exorcism.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:26 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Another wrinkle is that Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) has suggested it would be better to have a chaplain who has had children (so he could "connect" with lawmakers, most of whom have children). This is apparently causing something of a rift between Catholics ('cause the Catholic Church is not generally down with priests fathering children) and Evangelicals (whose pastors are normally married men with families).
Which does bring up the thought experiment of what would the good Representative think of appointing an ELCA or AME minister, Reform Rabbi or Imam, as opposed to some Southern Baptist or the head of an Evangelical TV Megachurch. They all can be married with children, just sayin'...

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Old 05-02-2018, 08:35 AM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
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I don't have a problem with a public hospital having a chaplain. Many people there are quite distraught and need comforting. Congressmen don't need comforting, they need exorcism.
Congressmen have been shot at. They, and their colleagues, might be distraught and in need of comforting, too.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:42 AM
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Congressmen have been shot at. They, and their colleagues, might be distraught and in need of comforting, too.
And that's a good reason to violate the Constitution? They can't go to a local place of worship or call their holy man of choice from their home town?
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:43 AM
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Congressmen have been shot at. They, and their colleagues, might be distraught and in need of comforting, too.
So have some on call. There are probably dozens of churches where a chaplain could be in the Capitol within 10 minutes. The primary purpose of the chaplain is not to give guidance and comfort to congressmen, it's to make them look good to the Bible-thumpers.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:49 AM
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Y'know, I'm not bothered by an institutional chaplaincy as long as it is NOT used as a way to officially endorse one or another doctrine. The Legislative chaplaincy (part-time) back in PR annoys me because it is obnoxiously "Of Course EVERYONE here MUST be Christian!! You can only be a real Puertorrican if you are Christian!!!" about it.

In this US Congress case I am bothered by the notion that the institutional chaplaincy must accommodate the ideologies or social leanings of those to whom it ministers. A good minister does not pander to the flock.
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:03 AM
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I'm not anti-religion and I'm not anti-religious people serving in Congress. But, I don't understand why we taxpayers are footing the bill for an official Chaplain for the House of Representatives. I assume that he has a bit of office space somewhere and at least a minimal staff. Someone has to answer the phone and take appointments. Then, he's going to have expenses, pension, and so forth. I assume the Senate has their version of all this, too.

This is the 21st century. I can understand a member of Congress may wish to consult with a pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam for spiritual guidance. So, why can't these members of Congress call their home ministers on the telephone. Here in 2018, we have instant face-to-face communication. Call, Skype, or FaceTime the minister who sees you in church every Sunday when you're home. Call or visit one of the hundreds of ministers who already live and work in the DC area.

Seriously, what do we need this guy for?
Not sure if anyone has bothered to look it up, but since I had no idea I just Googled it. Here is the wiki on it:

Quote:
The Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives is one of the officers of the United States House of Representatives. The House cites the first half of Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 in the United States Constitution as giving it the authority to elect a Chaplain, "The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers".[1]

The office of the Clerk of the House explains "The other officers have been created and their duties defined by the rules of the House, which also are made pursuant to the authority of the Constitution, hence one of the rules prescribes the duties of the Chaplain."[1]

In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, the Chaplain provides pastoral counseling to the House community, coordinates the scheduling of guest chaplains, and arranges memorial services for the House and its staff. In the past, Chaplains have performed marriage and funeral ceremonies for House members.

Chaplains are elected as individuals and not as representatives of any religious community, body, or organization. As of 2011, all House Chaplains have been Christian but can be members of any religion or faith group. Guest Chaplains, recommended by congressional members to deliver the session's opening prayer in place of the House Chaplain, have represented many different religious groups, including Judaism and Islam.
Quote:
Duties

The Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives is chosen to "perform ceremonial, symbolic, and pastoral duties".[7] These responsibilities include opening House sessions with a prayer or coordinating the delivery of the prayer by guest chaplains recommended by members of the House.[8][9][10]

The House Chaplain is also responsible for "hosting" Guest Chaplains on the day they deliver prayers.[11]

The Chaplain also provides pastoral care for members of Congress, their staffs, and their families, and provides or oversees religious programs such as Bible study, reflection groups, and the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast.[8] The Chaplain also often presides over religious ceremonies such as funerals and memorial services for current or past members and participates, offering delivering the invocation or benediction, at many official U.S. ceremonies, including White House events.[12] In a January 2011 post on "On Watch in Washington", the Chaplain of the Senate as well as the Chaplain of the House were included as part of "Obama's Spiritual Cabinet".[12]

Along with the Senate Chaplain, the House Chaplain is responsible for overseeing the Capitol Prayer Room, located near the Capitol Rotunda.[13] Dedicated in 1955, there are no worship services held in the room, nor is it normally open to the public.[13] Instead, as described by Sam Rayburn during the room's dedication, it is a place for members "who want to be alone with their God."[13]

While all House Chaplains (as of 2011) have been Christian, Guest Chaplains have been selected to deliver occasional prayers to open House sessions "for many decades",[7] and have represented both Christian and non-Christian faith groups, including Judaism and Islam.[14][15][16] Congressional members are limited to one Guest Chaplain recommendation per Congress,[17]
So, it seems to be a hold over from a previous age. I am unsure of how much pastoral care is still needed by the members of congress, their staff or their families today, though I suppose it's a fairly large body of people so perhaps there are still some that need and use this service.

I can't find what it costs the US per year, but even if we pay the guy a million dollars a year and provide him with a large staff it's such a minuscule amount of money that it's not even a rounding era on the Congressional budget. Sure, we could do without it, and it doesn't seem to be as necessary as it probably was when Washington DC was a small town and you had to travel long distances from your state to live and work there, but I also don't see any huge need to get rid of the office either. Probably why it's still around is it isn't worth the political capital to do away with it.
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:17 AM
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A lot of government agencies have chaplains, including public hospitals. But in my experience, most of them have multiple, volunteer chaplains of different faiths. The exceptions are the agencies that run prisons and jails, police departments and fire departments which tend to pay their chaplains, although it may be considered to be a part-time job.

I don't see why Congress can't manage with volunteers and there certainly shouldn't only be one.
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:25 AM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
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And that's a good reason to violate the Constitution?
Having a House Chaplain does not violate the Establishment Clause. Do you have a court ruling showing otherwise?
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:26 AM
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Congressmen have been shot at. They, and their colleagues, might be distraught and in need of comforting, too.
They can count their money if they want to feel better.

There's no need for a House Chaplain, especially with this bunch. Their willingness to fire this one for no good reason shows why they have no use for such spiritual guidance as a chaplain might claim to provide. But firing this old dude is low, they could have - and should have - retired the position along with the man when his time came. Presuming the necessity and usefulness of such a ceremonial role was what Paul Ryan had in mind when he fired the guy, which I don't.
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Old 05-02-2018, 11:43 AM
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A lot of government agencies have chaplains, including public hospitals. But in my experience, most of them have multiple, volunteer chaplains of different faiths. (...)

I don't see why Congress can't manage with volunteers and there certainly shouldn't only be one.
The first part is similar to how it works in Spain; those chaplains who are assigned full-time to the Armed Forces and Guardia Civil draw the pay which corresponds to their grade. The only references I find to chaplains in our Parliament is to the Vicario Castrense (military bishop) attending the occasional ceremony there.

The references I find to hospital chaplains are from anticlerical groups which seem to have problems marrying the concept of "full-time chaplain" and "doesn't have a salary" (they're usually assigned multiple full-time jobs, such as "hospital chaplain", "pastor of St John's" and "coadjutor at The Good Shepherd", all on one salary from the Diocese); the same people apparently also think cemetery chaplains draw a salary from the cemetery, when they're just those religious officers who are authorized to officiate there regularly (i.e., the people who have keys). For hospitals and prisons, "full time" means the chaplains can be called at any hours.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:22 PM
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Having a House Chaplain does not violate the Establishment Clause. Do you have a court ruling showing otherwise?
Religious Displays and the Courts

Religious Liberty: Landmark Supreme Court Cases


If cities and states can't establish religion, I fail to see how Congress can. Especially as Congress is directly prohibited in the Constitution from such actions.
Just because no one has had the balls to make a fuss doesn't make it right.
There are non-Christian Congresspersons. Why should they do without?
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:27 PM
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It's hard for me to comprehend why anyone thinks having House and Senate Chaplains is a good idea. I mean that literally. I cannot understand.

On the other hand, what a cushy job. You don't even have to prepare a Sunday sermon.
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Old 05-02-2018, 12:31 PM
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I am waiting on the price tag for that giant parade that's being planned. Seriously? People in Flint, MI need water. Arkansas is full of roads that need work. There's no excuse for blatant mis-use of funds.
don't forget Puerto Rico is still largely in shambles.
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Old 05-02-2018, 02:09 PM
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I've actually heard it seriously argued by more than one person that Puerto Rico should have become a state, then they'd be us and it would be our responsibility to help, but they haven't, so screw 'em.

Literally hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to central Florida alone since the hurricane. And here they can vote.
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:15 PM
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Why should "tradition" be sufficient reason to keep a dubious practice?
Why? Why should "tradition" go unchallenged?

What id "dubious" about it? The Chaplain gives a non-denominational benediction. Most members are Christian, and he can give counseling as requested.
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:17 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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And that's a good reason to violate the Constitution? They can't go to a local place of worship or call their holy man of choice from their home town?

How does it "violate the Constitution"?

You know there are Chaplains in the armed services also.
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:35 PM
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Religious Displays and the Courts

Religious Liberty: Landmark Supreme Court Cases


If cities and states can't establish religion, I fail to see how Congress can. Especially as Congress is directly prohibited in the Constitution from such actions.
Just because no one has had the balls to make a fuss doesn't make it right.
There are non-Christian Congresspersons. Why should they do without?
The only mention of chaplains in either of those links is Marsh v. Chambers (1983) where the USSC found the Nebraska legislature's practice of opening its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid from public funds was not a violation of the Establishment Clause.

So while it's fair for you like anyone else to have their opinions how the constitution should be interpreted, including overturning old decisions, it doesn't seem to be just a matter of lack of balls, but a history of rulings that the EC does not mean banishment of references to Christianity or especially generalized monotheistic expressions (often what it actually is) in the public sphere.

And, the kind of concept you propose is definitly not what "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" meant at the time. It meant the new govt should not officially favor one Protestant denomination over others. Catholicism let alone other religions were secondary considerations. The concept of banning reference to God in the public sphere might be a good one (though I can't gtee I agree personally), but it's not what they were talking about then, so isn't supported by simple reference to the text of the 1st amendment. It's a relatively new concept.

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Old 05-02-2018, 04:33 PM
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How does it "violate the Constitution"?

You know there are Chaplains in the armed services also.
Not exclusively Christian. The wiki article mentions Jewish, Roman Catholic, Moslem and Buddhist.
This is a Christian chaplain, leaving out anyone not of that faith.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:38 PM
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The only mention of chaplains in either of those links is Marsh v. Chambers (1983) where the USSC found the Nebraska legislature's practice of opening its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid from public funds was not a violation of the Establishment Clause.
But the concept of government sponsorship of a specific religion has been struck down in a number of cases. The devil is in the details.

In this case, the Chaplain is not just opening the session with a prayer, he's there to act as a religious counselor to the members.
If they want an opening prayer, why not people of different faiths do the honors in rotation? That would not favor a single religion or denomination.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:44 PM
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Not exclusively Christian. The wiki article mentions Jewish, Roman Catholic, Moslem and Buddhist.
This is a Christian chaplain, leaving out anyone not of that faith.
It doesnt have to be a Christian Chaplain. They could vote in a Rabbi or etc.. But indeed most congresscritters are Christian. Most Military Chaplains are Christian, but since there are many they can cover all faiths.

There was a Unitarian chaplain, who technically is Christian.

and the Chaplain will minister to those of any faith:

https://www.nytimes.com/1983/02/14/u...itutional.html

There have been Guest Chaplains who were rabbis:
https://seanmaloney.house.gov/media-...guest-chaplain

And it is constitutional:
https://www.freedomforuminstitute.or...lative-prayer/
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:42 PM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
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But the concept of government sponsorship of a specific religion has been struck down in a number of cases. The devil is in the details.

In this case, the Chaplain is not just opening the session with a prayer, he's there to act as a religious counselor to the members.
You seem to be ignoring Marsh v Chambers which pertains to government funded chaplains in legislatures. Contrary to your claim, the existence of a chaplain does not violate the Constitution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Chambers
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:13 PM
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You seem to be ignoring Marsh v Chambers which pertains to government funded chaplains in legislatures. Contrary to your claim, the existence of a chaplain does not violate the Constitution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Chambers
Not everyone thinks it's so clear.
Quote:
Justice Brennan, joined by Justice Marshall, wrote in a dissenting opinion,

The Court makes no pretense of subjecting Nebraska's practice of legislative prayer to any of the formal "tests" that have traditionally structured our inquiry under the Establishment Clause. That it fails to do so is, in a sense, a good thing, for it simply confirms that the Court is carving out an exception to the Establishment Clause, rather than reshaping Establishment Clause doctrine to accommodate legislative prayer. For my purposes, however, I must begin by demonstrating what should be obvious: that, if the Court were to judge legislative prayer through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:23 PM
D'Anconia D'Anconia is offline
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Not everyone thinks it's so clear.
You know that's a dissenting opinion, right? And therefore not legally binding?

You said in post #21 that the Constitution is being violated in this situation.

That statement is factually, demonstrably, incorrect.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:24 PM
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The House Chaplain does not open with a "nondenominational prayer", because there is no such thing. All prayers are denominational, by their very essence.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by running coach View Post
Not everyone thinks it's so clear.
Quote:
Justice Brennan, joined by Justice Marshall, wrote in a dissenting opinion,

The Court makes no pretense of subjecting Nebraska's practice of legislative prayer to any of the formal "tests" that have traditionally structured our inquiry under the Establishment Clause. That it fails to do so is, in a sense, a good thing, for it simply confirms that the Court is carving out an exception to the Establishment Clause, rather than reshaping Establishment Clause doctrine to accommodate legislative prayer. For my purposes, however, I must begin by demonstrating what should be obvious: that, if the Court were to judge legislative prayer through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.
And this current brouhaha confirms the wisdom of such a stricter interpretation of the Establishment Clause.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:35 PM
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You know that's a dissenting opinion, right? And therefore not legally binding?

You said in post #21 that the Constitution is being violated in this situation.

That statement is factually, demonstrably, incorrect.
Actually what would be incorrect would be to say that house chaplans are illegal. It's absolutely correct to say that if the Court were to judge legislative prayer through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

Which is say say of course it's unconstitutional - it's just not currently illegal, because it's getting a special exception because fuck the constitution, theocracy rocks.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:46 PM
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The House Chaplain does not open with a "nondenominational prayer", because there is no such thing. All prayers are denominational, by their very essence.
Not under the current meaning of the word. In fact the prayers are kinda deist.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:49 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Actually what would be incorrect would be to say that house chaplans are illegal. It's absolutely correct to say that if the Court were to judge legislative prayer through the unsentimental eye of our settled doctrine, it would have to strike it down as a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

Which is say say of course it's unconstitutional - it's just not currently illegal, because it's getting a special exception because fuck the constitution, theocracy rocks.
Not according to the Supreme Court:

The justices in Marsh found that unless there were “impermissible motives” in choosing the chaplain, drafting clergy from a specific denomination did not create a constitutional violation. The 16-year tenure of the Nebraska Legislature’s chaplain did not rise to the level of “impermissible” in this situation. The high court found that because the Legislature was routinely led in prayer by numerous other religious leaders, the faith of the paid chaplain was not shown any unique deference. As to the question of pay, Chief Justice Warren Burger looked once again to the history of legislative chaplains and found “remuneration (of chaplains) grounded in historic practice.” Finally, the prayers at issue were found to be non-coercive and not intended to persuade their hearers into adopting the speaker’s form of belief. The Court commented that the chaplain had gone out of his way to avoid offending those of different faiths, even making a point of avoiding references to Jesus after a Jewish legislator had expressed discomfort in the matter.

Therefore, because the facts in the case failed to demonstrate any tendency to favor one religious faith over another, the majority determined to be unfounded any concerns that the practice of legislative prayer was just the first step to “an establishment of religion.” The practice was therefore held to be constitutional.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:51 PM
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And, the kind of concept you propose is definitly not what "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" meant at the time. It meant the new govt should not officially favor one Protestant denomination over others. Catholicism let alone other religions were secondary considerations. The concept of banning reference to God in the public sphere might be a good one (though I can't gtee I agree personally), but it's not what they were talking about then, so isn't supported by simple reference to the text of the 1st amendment. It's a relatively new concept.
That's far too narrow a conception of what the Founding Fathers--or at least some of the most important of them, including Jefferson and Madison--meant when they talked about religious liberty and not having establishments of religion. Jefferson, in discussing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, proudly pointed out that the law protected " the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination." See also Thomas Jefferson and the fascinating history of Founding Fathers defending Muslim rights from The Washington Post.

The common idea of the "public sphere" when it comes to this topic is also frequently very ill-defined. No one ought to be suggesting that religion be banished from the "public sphere", by any reasonable definition of the "public sphere". This message board is arguably part of the "public sphere", as is the Internet as a whole, along with sidewalks and street corners, radio and TV networks (and cable access shows), billboards by the side of the highway, those letter board signs on the lawns of churches, churches themselves (whose services are usually "free and open to the public", as of course are many meetings of local freethought or atheist societies), and even public libraries (taxpayer-supported institutions which nonetheless--rightly--contain many religious works). What those of use who advocate for stricter separation of church and state want is the removal of references to God (for or against) from the official pronouncements of the governments to which we all owe allegiance, and whose authority ultimately derives from all of us.
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:57 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Not according to the Supreme Court:

The justices in Marsh found that unless there were “impermissible motives” in choosing the chaplain, drafting clergy from a specific denomination did not create a constitutional violation. The 16-year tenure of the Nebraska Legislature’s chaplain did not rise to the level of “impermissible” in this situation. The high court found that because the Legislature was routinely led in prayer by numerous other religious leaders, the faith of the paid chaplain was not shown any unique deference. As to the question of pay, Chief Justice Warren Burger looked once again to the history of legislative chaplains and found “remuneration (of chaplains) grounded in historic practice.” Finally, the prayers at issue were found to be non-coercive and not intended to persuade their hearers into adopting the speaker’s form of belief. The Court commented that the chaplain had gone out of his way to avoid offending those of different faiths, even making a point of avoiding references to Jesus after a Jewish legislator had expressed discomfort in the matter.

Therefore, because the facts in the case failed to demonstrate any tendency to favor one religious faith over another, the majority determined to be unfounded any concerns that the practice of legislative prayer was just the first step to “an establishment of religion.” The practice was therefore held to be constitutional.
Fuck the constitution, theocracy rocks!

Or slightly more eloquently, that opinion openly admits that the only reason this is, at the moment, okay enough to get an exception is because the chaplain has "gone out of his way" to avoid making an issue of the fact that he's a specific religion's chaplain. This is certainly not a given, and thus the position is inherently constitutionally problematic. Except of course we're going to ignore that because theocracy rocks!
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:00 PM
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Serious question:
Why is "tradition" apparently not a sufficient reason for you?

If there is a GOOD reason to change a tradition, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you should think twice before making any changes.
That emphasized sentence would be just as defensible with the word "change" replaced with "keep."
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:00 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Corporate prayer in a political gathering is like corporate sex in a religious gathering. It corrupts the whole enterprise and corrupts every person present.
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