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J. F.
Republican VA 4

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  • Congressional Prayer Caucus

    by Representative J. Randy Forbes

    Posted on 2013-02-04

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    FORBES. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of this Special Order.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Virginia? There was no objection.

    Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to come to the floor tonight to discuss our Nation's rich spiritual heritage and the foundation it laid for the religious freedoms we still enjoy today. I'm hosting this Special Order hour as founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group with more than 90 Members of the House of Representatives dedicated to protecting religious freedom in America and preserving our Nation's rich spiritual heritage. I co-chair this caucus with my good friend, Mr. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat Member from North Carolina. We founded the caucus in 2005 to formally acknowledge the important role that faith plays in American life and to recognize our Nation's religious heritage. We're working to guard these legacies for future generations.

    Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus gather each week in the United States Capitol, just a few feet from here, to pray for our Nation. We leave political labels at the door and we join in prayer for one another and our country. We all know how unusual it is in the current political climate for Members to unite across the aisle and work together. Yet throughout the more than 200-year history of our Nation, prayer has played a vital role in strengthening the fabric of our society.

    Mr. Speaker, our prayers build upon the legacy that was established by early legislators. In fact, the first act of America's first Congress in 1774 was to ask a minister to open with prayer and lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible. As our fledgling Nation grew and encountered overwhelming challenges, time and time again we saw our Nation's leaders turn to God in prayer.

    We live in a challenging time. Wherever I go, I encounter people who want to know if the future of America is optimistic or pessimistic. When I review the insurmountable challenges our Nation overcame to get to this point--the Civil War, World War II, the Great Depression, and so many more--I believe our future is optimistic. As long as there are men and women in our government and throughout our Nation who continue to turn to God for help, we'll always have hope.

    In addition to joining in prayer each week, members of the Prayer Caucus also work together to preserve the presence of religion, faith, and morality in the marketplace of ideas. We're seeing increased efforts to remove references to God and faith from the public square. Activists seek to remove ``God'' from our national motto and Pledge of Allegiance. They seek to prevent city and county councils from praying and recognizing our Nation's spiritual heritage. And they seek to silence people who wish to live out their faith.

    {time} 1920 Members of the Prayer Caucus have countered these efforts, successfully ensuring that our history remains intact for future generations.

    In the 112th Congress, I introduced a resolution reaffirming our national motto ``In God We Trust'' and encouraging its public display in public buildings. The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 396-9. Some ask why we needed to reaffirm our national motto; yet if left unstated, the motto could be changed in a de facto manner.

    On November 2010, before a worldwide audience in a much publicized speech focusing on the United States' relationship with the Muslim world, President Obama incorrectly proclaimed that our national motto was ``E Pluribus Unum.'' Despite a bipartisan letter from 42 Members of Congress, the President didn't correct his inaccurate statement. Now, thanks to the House passage of the In God We Trust resolution, children across America know that if God can be displayed on the walls of their classroom, they cannot be prevented from talking about him at school.

    Members of the Prayer Caucus also worked to correct inaccuracies and omissions in the Capitol Visitor Center. In 2008, the over-half- billion-dollar Capitol Visitor Center opened for the purpose of educating over 15,000 Capitol visitors daily on the legislative process, as well as the history and development of the architecture and art of the U.S. Capitol.

    When Members toured the facility, however, CVC historians had censored the building of any references to our Judeo-Christian history. They had replaced the inscription of ``In God We Trust'' inscribed right behind you on the Speaker's rostrum with stars and a replica of the House Chamber and had cropped an actual picture of the Chamber so you could not see the words ``In God We Trust.'' Additionally, a plaque was placed in the CVC falsely educating visitors that the national motto was E Pluribus Unum. They had not included the Pledge of Allegiance in the CVC because it referenced God. Only after Members of Congress intervened publicly and legislatively were these omissions and inaccuracies corrected.

    I am proud to partner with my good friend, Mr. Mike McIntyre, in leading this extraordinary group of Members in the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and I'm so pleased to be joined this evening by my colleagues who are working to protect religious freedom in America and around the world.

    Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to yield to my colleague and my good friend from New Mexico (Mr. Pearce).

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