Federal Level Rotunda Prayer

The separationists grow even queasier when religious meetings or events take place in the halls of the federal government. When both houses of Congress passed a resolution allowing the Capitol Rotunda to be used for prayer sessions by members of Congress, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) were none too pleased. "If members of Congress want a religious service, they can go to their houses of worship," said AU president Barry Lynn. "The U.S. Capitol is not a revival tent." Apparently Lynn is unaware that murals around the Rotunda wall depict a pilgrim's prayer, the baptism of Pocahontas, De Soto planting a cross on the banks of the Mississippi, and George Washington passing into Heaven. Gabe Neville, spokesman for Congressman Joseph R. Pitts, one of the sponsors of the resolution, denied they were breaking new ground. "This is not unprecedented at all," said Neville. "The House of Representatives was used as a church from when it was built until after the Civil War. The first Continental Congress opened their first session on October 14,1774, with two hours of prayer. The original session of the U.S. Supreme Court established September 24, 1789, began with a four-hour communion service." Such historical facts, sadly, make little impression on those who want to eradicate religion from government property.

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