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Prayer Caucus?

Earlier this month, over 40 members of Congress signed a letter scolding President Barack Obama for not invoking God enough in speeches. The members, writing under the auspices of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, were upset that Obama recently referred to our national motto as "E pluribus unum." In 1956, Congress adopted "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the nation. The phrase Obama used is still on the national seal and was often considered a national motto from congressional adoption in 1782 until Congress's action in 1956 (and is still considered one of our nation's mottos). The congressional members also criticized Obama for not mentioning God more in other speeches about our rights we have as Americans. The letter urges Obama to issue a correction and ends with a quotation from Ronald Reagan about the need to keep following God as a nation. Joining Caucus leader Randy Forbes in signing the letter were Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Randy Neugebauer, Mike Pence, and Joe Wilson. Interestingly, the letter claims to be from members of the 68-member bipartisan Caucus, but only 42 signed it and only one Democrat did (there are other Democrats that are part of the Caucus so perhaps most of them wanted to keep praying instead of attack Obama). This demand that Obama talk about God more is quite troubling and a sad sign of the age of confessional politics in which we live.

However, there is another big problem since the Caucus seems to be attacking Obama for doing what other recent presidents have done--including Reagan, who was quoted as a role model in the letter. Journalist Frank Lockwood noted that both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush referred to "E pluribus unum" as our nation's motto. Although the Caucus was not around during Reagaon's presidency, it did exist during Bush's but apparently was silent about his God talk. Thus, Lockwood asks, "is the prayer caucus a Republican attack machine denouncing President Obama for political purposes?" Either way, it seems that Forbes and his Congressional Prayer Caucus need to spend more time praying and less time engaging in partisan politics.

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