I swear, if I have to listen to too many more wishes for “God bless America” from our presidential candidates I am going to throw something. STFU, candidates, and read the document you profess to wish to represent.
In fact, I propose that we eliminate the office of the Chaplain of both houses of Congress.* The United States Senate Office of the Chaplain web site has the following to say:
Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. [...] During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate’s faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation.
No. No, no, no. I don’t care that the first Senate in 1789 had a Chaplain. Get over it. We’re a different nation now, and separation of Church and State should mean that the Senate respects the fact that “God” is not, in fact, the Sovereign Lord of our Nation. No wonder Theocracy has such an easy time getting a foothold here, when the halls of government are ringing with endorsements for one particular flavor of Divine, and only that one. Ugh. I refer the mostly duly-elected members of House and Senate to the U.S. Constitution (remember, that document all you legislators are supposed to be defending, as much as you are supposed to be representing the people?), Article 6:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
*For those just tuning in who may think I’m some kind of militant atheist**, please see the many religion-related tags. I am an ordained Interfaith Minister myself*** I still don’t think Congress should have a Chaplain on its payroll. I definitely don’t think Congress should open its business days with a prayer. They should have every single congressperson take a turn reading the entire constitution out loud to open the day’s work. It’s not that long. They could manage. They’re all supposed to know it anyway. Remind them who they’re supposed to be working for.
**Not that I have a problem with atheism, as such, but militant flavors of any belief system are dangerous.
***No, I don’t think having an “Interfaith” Chaplain for Congress in the answer, either. No Chaplains on the Congressional payroll. Let them find their spiritual guidance on their own time.