Appeals court: House not required to accept 'secular prayer' at start of work day
FREE Catholic Classes
A D.C. federal appeals court has ruled that the chaplain for the House of Representatives cannot be forced to allow a self-described atheist to proclaim a secular prayer publicly to the body.
Washington D.C., (CNA) - The decision, delivered on Good Friday, said the House rules allow for a religious invocation at the start of its work day, and a secular prayer does not qualify as a religious invocation.
The suit was raised by Dan Barker with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He had asked to be a guest chaplain for the House of Representatives, but had been rejected by the House chaplain, Fr. Patrick Conroy.
Barker claimed that he had been rejected because he was an atheist, which he said amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion by Congress.
But the appeals court said the prayer was rejected because it was non-religious in nature, which renders it irrelevant that the proposed minister was an atheist.
"Even though we accept as true Barker's allegation that Conroy rejected him 'because he is an atheist,' the House's requirement that prayers must be religious nonetheless precludes Barker from doing the very thing he asks us to order Conroy to allow him to do: deliver a secular prayer," wrote Judge David Tatel on behalf of the three-judge panel.
He noted that Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution allows the House to make its own rules. "Accordingly, we accept the House's interpretation of its own rules as requiring a religious prayer," he said.
Conroy, who has served as the House chaplain since May 2011, made headlines last year when he offered his resignation but then rescinded the resignation two weeks later.
He told then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) that he would not leave voluntarily and that Ryan would have to fire him if he wished for him to leave his role.
Conroy said Ryan's chief of staff had asked him to resign, commenting on a prayer that he had offered several months earlier, which was perceived as critical of the Republicans' tax bill.
Ryan said that some House members had concerns about Conroy, and that he was not able to adequately tend to the spiritual needs of some Congressmen.
The Jesuit priest objected that he had never faced disciplinary measures or received any complaints about his ministry during his then-nearly seven years as House chaplain.
Ryan then said that he had decided to allow Conroy to "remain in his position as Chaplain of the House."
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
Former students of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School have published an open letter challenging a recent decision they say undermines ... continue reading
While the number of abortions procured in the US has steadily declined in recent decades, recent data indicate that this decline may be ... continue reading
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed the Human Life Protection Act into law. The legislation would make performing or attempting to ... continue reading
'The Eucharist is only in this Church'- How one 2019 convert found, and embraced, the Catholic Church Watch
Elise Amez-Droz's journey to the Catholic Church began in a place well known for religious fervor, but not exactly known for Catholicism: ... continue reading
Following an op-ed in the New York Times claiming that all pregnancies are life-threatening, a Catholic doctor emphasized that pregnancy is ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Georgetown Visitation alumnae respond to 'heartbreaking betrayal'
- Prayer Requests Live for Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Sunday, May 26th, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Readings for Friday, May 24, 2019
- Pro-life activist conceived in rape addresses Alabama abortion law
- Chemical abortions may be slowing the decline in US abortions
- St. David I of Scotland: Saint of the Day for Friday, May 24, 2019
- Daily Reading for Saturday, May 25th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, May 24th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.