In the late 1700’s, Thomas Jefferson posed this question: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?”
Today, the words of our country’s third president ring true more than ever before. Our God-given liberties are the cornerstone of American democracy, and we must continue to reaffirm our commitment to the values upon which our country was founded.
We live in a society where there are increasing efforts to remove religion from public life, but, as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, I am 100% dedicated to defending the importance of faith in all that we do.
Most recently, upon learning that atheists were attempting to legally remove the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, I led a coalition of 38 Members of Congress in defending the use of God in the Pledge. We joined together in confirming our country’s constitutional principles and rich spiritual heritage by signing an amicus curiae brief to the courts, affirming that the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge serves to unify Americans of all faiths in remembrance of the fragile and precious freedoms we have in this country.
Earlier this year, a legal case was brought before the Supreme Court attempting to deny legislatures the right to open their sessions with prayer. In response, I worked with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to defend and preserve the constitutional right of legislators to pray. In an amicus curiae brief signed by 85 Members of Congress, we reminded the courts that legislative prayer has played a vital role in Congress and at all levels of government from the earliest days of our nation’s history. Even today, Congress opens its daily sessions with prayer, a practice that is fully consistent with the Establishment Clause.
This is not the first time that efforts have been made to exclude references to God from our public domain. In 2008, when the new Capitol Visitors Center was built to welcome guests visiting the building, the Architect of the Capitol would not permit any references to God when, in fact, our National Motto is, “In God We Trust,” and our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are “One Nation, Under God”. In response to this omission, I joined members of the Prayer Caucus voting for legislation to permanently engrave our national motto, “In God We Trust,” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent locations in the Visitor’s Center which I hope you will have a chance to view when in Washington.
Throughout the more than 200-year history of our nation, faith, prayer, and trust in God have played a vital role in strengthening the fabric of our society. Today, we are incredibly blessed to live in a country where our right to worship freely and without fear and persecution is guaranteed by our Constitution.
However, in my conversations with constituents, I often hear from folks who are concerned about the direction this country is headed. They worry that our rich spiritual heritage is corroding and that their children and grandchildren might grow up in a world where faith no longer serves as a guiding compass for our nation or its leaders.
If you share these concerns, I hope you will consider joining those of us in the Congressional Prayer Caucus in praying for our great country. Each week, as members of Congress return to Washington, a group of us join together in Room 219 of the Capitol Building just to pray together. In doing so, we leave party labels at the door, and pray — like Solomon of the Old Testament— for wisdom for that week in the decisions to be made. You can join with us by visiting the Congressional Prayer Caucus website and signing up for a time to pray each week!
We hear so much about the partisanship in Washington today, and how no one seems to be willing to listen to one another or work together to solve our most pressing issues. But when we join together in humble prayer before the Lord, there is no Republican or Democrat, no right or left side of the aisle, no liberal or conservative, only children of God, pausing to ask for His blessing on this great nation.
Just like Nehemiah built a wall around Jerusalem in scripture, I hope you will help us build a wall of prayer around our capitol and around our nation. Even if you have just five minutes a day, consider joining us in praying for wisdom for our nation’s leaders, praying that they will make the right decisions during these trying times, and praying for God’s blessing upon America.
May we take time to pray together for these things because we recognize, as our founders did, that the true source of power is not found in the halls of Congress, or in the Oval Office of the West Wing, or in the Chambers of the Supreme Court. The true source of power is found on our knees, before the Throne of Grace, before Almighty God!
May God bless you, and, indeed, may God bless the United States of America!