Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Here we go again — the new session of Congress has just begun and another bill about military chaplains praying in Jesus’ name has already been introduced.

On January 7, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) introduced H.R. 268, a bill “To amend title 10, United States Code, to ensure that every military chaplain has the prerogative to close a prayer outside of a religious service according to the dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience.” H.R. 268, a regurgitation of H.R. 6514, which was introduced in the last congress but never made it to the floor, would amend Title 10 of the U.S. Code to state, in five separate sections:

“If called upon to lead a prayer outside of a religious service, a chaplain shall have the prerogative to close the prayer according to the dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience.”

The actual bill itself, of course, does not name the religion of Christianity or state that the bill’s purpose is specifically to allow prayers in Jesus’ name at mandatory, non-religious functions, but in a press release put out by his office, Rep. Jones makes it quite clear that this is the case.

“For Christian chaplains, closing their prayers in the name of Jesus Christ is a fundamental part of their beliefs, and to suppress this form of expression would violate their religious freedom. …Demand for so-called ‘non-sectarian’ prayer is merely a euphemism declaring that prayers will be acceptable only so long as they censor Christian beliefs.”

Rep. Jones also claims in the press release:

“Throughout our nation’s history, chaplains not only have remained an integral part of our military, but they have always prayed according to their faith tradition.”

Well, that’s only true if you pretty much omit the entire nineteenth century, and, since my New Year’s resolution was to get back to writing about history more, I had to debunk Rep. Jones’s claim. Read my entire post here.