For those of you who live in the NPR/MPR frequency - you maybe already caught this:Senate Chaplain: Religious Leader For Secular Flock . Barry Black talks about his work on the Senate floor. He talks about praying with Senators about decisions about how they should vote on bills. He has even led Bible Studies on the infamous death panels- 'because the Bible addresses it.' The article and audio don't say what his views are on the subject - but the question remains --- Are we still okay with a Christian leading prayers and politically expedient Bible studies on the taxpayer dollar?
Part of me says - better to have someone on the taxpayer dollar that we can hold accountable versus all those pastors who minister to Senators on how to vote off the clock. The other part of me says - if we can overturn Supreme Court precedence about legitimate campaign finance laws giving person-hood and "free speech" status to corporations, can/should we also overturn questionable precedence about the Senate Chaplain?
I don't think that the conservative nature of this court is one where we should challenge much. If we have the case go in front of the court and it gets shot down, the precedent would be locked in for any challenges in the future. We should take our ball and go home until we have a liberal court (generally speaking).
The only person with standing to bring a suit against the office of chaplain would be a senator who objected to hearing a prayer during the course of senate business from which the senator could not absent herself without affecting the business of being a senator. Umbrage FAIL.
The only way Abington School District v. Schempp went for the plaintiff was that Ellery Schempp had to set through the prayer and could not be excused or she would suffer harm or hear the prayer and suffer harm. Unitarian WIN. Our peer Madeline Murray-O'Hair got Murray v. Curlett joined in the Supreme Court and in the public mind this went down as an atheist WIN. Which is only partly true but we can still bask in the awesomeness.
As Gaytor points out, this would be pushing a rope in court. It would be pushing a radioactive, explosive, poison rope politically.
Okay - both the conservative court makes sense (when will it not be conservative again?) and the logistics of proving harm caused to senate business precedence makes sense. Both perspectives are helpful.
Beyond taking it to court, and beyond further media coverage, is there anything that can be done to lessen the sway of a tax-supported Christian chaplain?