Television lighting technicians build sets inside Statuary Hall for post-speech interviews hours before President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Today’s big prayer event in Statuary Hall

Fox News published an opinion piece this morning from Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, an anti-gay mega-church leader in Texas, who’s eager to publicize an event scheduled for this evening on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday evening, May 7, I will be joining former Governor Mike Huckabee, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), pastors Jim Garlow and Dan Cummins, Tony Perkins, and others in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol for an event called “Washington: A Man of Prayer.”
 
This event, which will be simulcast to churches through out [sic] the nation and carried on the Daystar Television Network, will commemorate the 225th anniversary of the events of April 30, 1789.
April 30, 1789 was the date of George Washington’s inauguration. He attended a church service later that evening.
 
There are a couple of interesting angles to this. The first is the location – Statuary Hall isn’t some sort of public facility that anyone can use. Groups have to get special permission from the congressional leadership to hold events there, and it’s not often granted.
 
Apparently, however, this religious right gathering made the cut. It’s done so for three consecutive years now.
 
Another angle to keep in mind is tonight’s official host.
 
Long-time readers may recall that a year ago this week, Michele Bachmann spoke at this same prayer event in the same location and argued that both the 9/11 attacks and the Benghazi attacks are related to divine “judgment.”
 
“It’s no secret that our nation may very well be experiencing the hand of judgment. It’s no secret that we all are concerned that our nation may be in a time of decline,” the Minnesota Republican said, adding, “Our nation has seen judgment not once but twice on September 11…. Is there anything better that we can do on that day rather than to humble ourselves and to pray to an almighty God?”
 
This is not, as a rule, what politicians usually say about terrorist strikes. Indeed, from Bachmann’s perspective, Americans are at least partly to blame for the attacks themselves – we displeased God, the argument goes, and as a consequence, we felt the pain of God’s “judgment.”
 
A year later, event organizers rewarded Bachmann, making her the official host of the Statuary Hall prayer service.
 

Religious Right

Today's big prayer event in Statuary Hall