The rejection of Father Tim O'Brien, a Jesuit priest, as the next chaplain of the House of Representatives by the Republican leadership--although he was the first choice of the screening committee--has resulted in continuing accusations of anti-Catholicism, led by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Largely overlooked, however, are a number of historical points that may add more context to this controversy. In 1790, the First Congress, voting for legislative chaplains, ruled that "two Chaplains of different denominations... shall interchange weekly." That provision has been violated ever since. The chaplain of the House has always been a Protestant. Therefore, he has always been a Christian. (For one year, in the 19th century, there was a Catholic chaplain in the Senate.) The full text of Hentoff's column can be read here.
more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad