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Congress Struggles With Funding Repairs To U.S. Capitol Dome

This Week in God, 5.7.16

05/07/16 08:24AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a new lawsuit challenging one of Congress' stranger quirks: members' taxpayer-financed chaplain.
 
As longtime readers may recall, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate each choose a designated religious leader, whose salaries are paid by American taxpayers, to serve as the respective chambers' designated chaplains. In Congress' early days, the idea was that lawmakers would be away from their home districts for many months at a time, so a chaplain could meet members' spiritual needs during lengthy legislative sessions.
 
In modern times, however, congressional chaplains rarely do anything noteworthy, and religious members of Congress are in contact with their own faith leaders in their own states and districts. Chaplains deliver congressional prayers, often to rooms that are largely empty, but otherwise, they're generally neither seen nor heard outside Capitol Hill.
 
The Washington Post reported this week that a new lawsuit is challenging the legality of these offices themselves.
The leader of a group dedicated to promoting the separation of church and state filed a lawsuit Thursday against House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy after he rejected a request to deliver a non-religious invocation on the House floor.
 
Dan Barker, president of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, alleges that Conroy denied him an opportunity to deliver a guest invocation because Barker is an atheist. The lawsuit was filed in D.C. District Court on Thursday, the same day designated as the National Day of Prayer. [...]
 
The lawsuit is the result of a year-long effort led by Barker and the Freedom From Religion Foundation and reopens a long-standing fight over whether it is appropriate for a religious leader to open the daily session in Congress.
The lawsuit, by most accounts, is a bit of a longshot, but let's not forget that James Madison -- generally recognized as the Father of the Constitution -- believed taxpayer-financed congressional chaplains are unconstitutional and should not exist.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Sanders on change, by states and by people

Sanders on change, state by state, person by person

05/06/16 09:42PM

Senator Bernie Sanders talks with Rachel Maddow about the possibility of single-payer health care happening state by state instead of their federal action, and the motivation he hopes his supports take from his campaign to help bring change on important issues. watch

Sanders calls for a Democratic Fox News

Sanders slams corporate media, calls for Democratic Fox News

05/06/16 09:27PM

Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president, vents his frustrations about corporate, mainstream media, calling for a Democratic-funded equivalent of Fox News, and political journalism that focuses more on the substance of solving the nation's problems than on the horse race of elections. watch

Sanders hits Democratic Party 'stacked deck'

Sanders hits Democratic Party for 'stacked deck'

05/06/16 09:07PM

Senator Bernie Sanders talks with Rachel Maddow about his accusation that the Democratic Party has put his campaign at a disadvantage by under-representing them on convention committees, saying, "So far the deck is outrageously stacked against us." watch

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Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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