Congressional Prayer Caucus Under Scrutiny

The Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC), a center of Christian Right political power in Washington, came under scrutiny in major media this week, with an article in USA Today that called attention to the group and its religiously charged agenda.

Led by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the taxpayer-funded CPC has connections to a private group called the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which is headquartered in a building owned by Forbes that also houses his campaign office.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, the CPC consistently takes positions that support fundamentalist Christian viewpoints in public policy. They want “In God We Trust” signs and Ten Commandments monuments in public places, they oppose efforts to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, they want prayer to be part of government activities, and they defend gay-bashing chaplains in the military. The group once criticized President Obama for referring to E Pluribus Unum as an American motto, and has even gone so far as to advocate for removal of Establishment Clause cases from the jurisdiction of federal courts.

One would hope that with views like these the CPC would be obscure and insignificant, but that’s not the case. At one point the CPC boasted over 100 members, or almost one in four members of Congress.

The American Humanist Association has been calling public attention to the CPC for years. In each of the last two election cycles, for example, the AHA has sent letters to incoming members of Congress urging them not to join the CPC, pointing out that CPC positions are extreme and hostile to the interests of religious minorities and the nonreligious. Perhaps the efforts are working, as CPC membership has dropped over ten percent since the AHA’s efforts began.


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