Readers of this page may be surprised to learn that the U.S. Congress still prays. Convocations during opening sessions are common among Congressmen even today when, largely because of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, open displays of religious expression are discouraged. In what may be his most famous inaugural address, President Abe Lincoln said, “Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-men’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”
Those words, yet to be scrubbed, are emblazoned on the north wall of the Lincoln Memorial, and they were powerful enough to be folded poetically into the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial nearly a hundred years later. Audaciously, Mr. King referred obliquely to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the opening of his speech. The Gettysburg Address also is freighted with religious ideas that may not pass muster in some modern educational halls of learning without proper trigger warnings. All three speeches remind us that words – and prayers – matter.
When 49 gays were murdered in Orlando, Florida by an Islamic terrorist who had, in the midst of the slaughter, taken a moment to make a 911 call, in the course of which he professed his fealty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, an Islamic terrorist organization that regularly executes gays – the theologically correct method of execution, according to almost all the sahabas, the companions of the prophet Mohammed, is to throw the gay from a high wall and then stone him or her – the U.S. Congress declared “a moment of silence” as a mark of respect to the murdered victims. The “moment of silence,” in Congress and elsewhere in the nation, has become a veil that hides prayers from protesting agnostics and atheists. But such Congressmen as are not atheists and agnostics, following the path trodden by Lincoln and the Reverend King, are likely praying behind the veil. And in truth, the U.S. Congress – positive approval rating among those represented by national legislators, 11 percent -- can use all the prayers it can get.
These quasi-prayers in Congress have now aroused the ire of the seven members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, all Democrats who have professed their fealty to likely Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Six members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation are up for re-election this year. They are: U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, and U.S. House members John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty. Perhaps the most ardent anti-moment-of-silence member of the Delegation is U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who is up for re-election in 2018.
The playbook objection to moments of prayers for the victims of Islamic terror here in the United States is that: 1) prayers and moments of silence are not efficacious, and 2) the Congress ought not to be silent on the matter of gun regulations which, say advocates of gun control, might have prevented such “tragedies” as have occurred in Orlando. Gun regulations are more efficacious than prayers or moments of silence that make the Congress, say most of the Democratic members of Connecticut’s U.S. Delegation, complicit in the terrorist slaying of 49 gays in Florida.
Here is Mr. Murphy on the complicity of the U.S. Congress: “This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America – nowhere else. Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening silence. This doesn't have to happen, but this epidemic will continue without end if Congress continues to sit on its hands and do nothing – again."
And Mr. Blumenthal: "There are many lessons to be learned from this horrific tragedy… Congress will continue to be complicit, and there will be repeated acts of mass murder … whether on the streets of Hartford or in rural areas around Connecticut ... so long as Congress fails to act [to pass gun regulations approved by Mr. Blumenthal]."
And Rep. Jim Himes: "Silence. That is how the leadership of the most powerful country in the world will respond to this week's massacre of its citizens. … Not me, not anymore. I will no longer stand here absorbing the faux concern, contrived gravity and tepid smugness of a House complicit in the weekly bloodshed.”
Now then, here are some lessons that the U.S. Congress might learn from the Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando: The shooter, Omar Mateen, was employed by a large security firm, and he passed two sets of rigorous background checks: those administered by his employers and those administered by the gun shop at the point of sale. The FBI twice interviewed the terrorist and concluded Mr. Mateen was not a threat. The AR15, banned in Connecticut, is a semi-automatic weapon, not a military grade assault weapon. As a former Marine who went through basic training, Mr. Blumenthal should be able to correct this misapprehension on the part of his colleagues. The gun restrictions passed in Connecticut quite obviously have not diminished gun crimes in Hartford, the state capital, which became, months after the post-Sandy Hook reforms were inaugurated with great fanfare, the murder capital of New England. Prayer and gun restriction reforms are not, as the rhetoric pouring from Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation suggests, mutually exclusive; for instance, the Connecticut seven might find it useful to pray for gun reform. Others, even agnostics and atheists -- certainly gays -- might find it more fulfilling to pray for the destruction of ISIS.
Certainly a more rational case can be made to show that those who resist the military destruction of ISIS are complicit in the murder of Orlando gays. Yet Mr. Murphy is discouraging any effective military response to the ISIS scourge. According to the CTMirror report above cited, Mr. Murphy “said the advance of U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Syria means the only way ISIS can continue to survive is by moving its fight outside of the Middle East through ‘lone-wolf attacks.’” This logic is on a par with the absurd notion that a fire started by an arsonist should not be put out because such a provocative measure would incite the arsonist to torch yet another house.
But this is what passes for thought in Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation, which is why Congress has richly earned an approval rating from their constituents of 11 percent, which is why all of us should pray for them on every street corner in the United States – publicly, loudly, persistently, joyously, since the inevitable consequences following Congressional irresolution on ISIS and Islamic terrorism should be obvious to all – more Orlandos.