State Of Faith: Church And State

9 years 7 months 2 weeks ago May 30, 2007 May 30, 2007 Wednesday, May 30 2007 Wednesday, May 30, 2007 11:41:40 PM CDT in News

The separation of church and state continues to divide politicians in the United States and in the Missouri legislature. However, there is one group of faithful men who do a job many believe is a cornerstone of state government. Each day in the Capitol starts the same way, with a prayer. And each day House Chaplain James Jackson does his part to put meaning in the morning.

"What they do is very very important, if affects us all. People of faith, people who are agnostic, people that don't lean on a particular faith. It doesn't matter, what they do affects all of our lives," House Chaplain Rev. James Jackson said.

Jackson and his fellow chaplains believe a little prayer can go a long way when it comes to making the right decisions in Jefferson City.

"Faith means that they understand the value that God has given to us as a people. And they try to express that value in what they do and what they pass," Senate Chaplain Rev. Carl Gauck said.

Missouri employs three legislative chaplains who work part time when the House and Senate are in session.

"It gives a sense of a little bit more peace, it gives a sense of hope. That's a very stressful job and I think that any time we begin to ask or seek someone higher than we, then we can actually get some things accomplished," Jackson said.

Writing a prayer each day isn't an easy task. Gauck, a retired Lutheran pastor, spends four to six hours each week doing just that.

"I want to make sure it's saying something to what is going on and try to make them contextual in terms of whatever happens in the senate here as well as the health of the senate family and staff members," Gauck said.

Prayer is a daily ritual in the Capitol among many legislators in the privacy of their offices. But they don't all agree on how much, and which kinds of prayer should be in public.

"I think having a chaplain helps remind you each day to kind of temper your views a little bit. That you want to start and think 'ok,' God established this nation, he established this building, and be careful what you do with it," Sen. John Loudon said.

"There's not always diversity in the prayers that are delivered at the dais when we start session every day. As far as I know, in the three years that I have been here, we have had one rabbi deliver a prayer, and that was the only non-Christian," Rep. Judy Baker said.

Rachel Storch is one of three Jewish lawmakers in Jefferson City. She said everyone can take something from the daily messages.

"They're very nice prayers and they represent our spirit and our common goals of doing good for the people of this state," Rep. Rachel Storch said.

The prayers are supposed to be non-denominational, so they can include many faiths in a diverse legislature.

"They kind of said, if you want to do a good job, you make them non-denominational. And that was the direction from the leadership here," Gauck said.

Precedent for prayer and government goes back hundreds of years. The Continental Congress began each session with a prayer during a time when they were deciding the fate of a young nation. But it took a Supreme Court decision to make prayer permanent. The high court decided in the landmark 1983 case Marsh v. Chambers, that state governments could publicly fund prayer in their legislatures. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote the major opinion in a six to three decision.

He said prayer was allowable because it is a, "tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country."

And for chaplains like Gauck and Jackson prayer is also about connecting people to their government.

"I have always believed that if a church is in a community then we ought to be a part of what is happening in that community. We ought to have a voice in that community. And if asked to serve in that community, then we ought to, if we can, be a part of what goes on in that community," Jackson said.

The third legislative chaplain is a Catholic priest. All three are part time positions. The chaplains make between two and twelve thousand dollars a session for their work.

More News

Grid
List
CAMDEN COUNTY - Deputies took a suspect who stabbed three people Sunday into custody without incident. The suspect is awaiting... More >>
8 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:20:00 PM CST in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - The northbound lanes of Highway 63 near Hinton Road were closed after the engine compartment of a... More >>
9 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 9:49:07 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are hoping to expan d services to Missouri customers... More >>
11 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:50:00 PM CST in News
GRANBY (AP) — Anoth er Missouri school district is c onsidering whether to join 18 others that have adopted a... More >>
11 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:46:03 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Steven Hughes thought he found the perfect car for his family of five — until the title proving... More >>
13 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:59:00 PM CST in News
MARSHALL (AP) - Missouri authorities are searching for a suspected parole violator they say exchanged gunfire with a state trooper... More >>
14 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:27:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A break in at popular downtown restaurant Cafe Berlin forced the restaurant to close Sunday, according to a... More >>
16 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 2:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Mixed reactions came out of mid-Missouri Sunday as the weekend ice storm began to wind down. While... More >>
18 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 12:07:00 PM CST in News
LAKE OZARK - After being stuck indoors waiting for this ice storm to end, some people might be getting a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 5:42:00 AM CST in News
MONTGOMERY COUNTY - A man died at the hospital after a car crash on I-70 Saturday night, according to a... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 9:45:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Room at the Inn, Columbia's emergency winter shelter, will remain open through at least Sunday morning due to... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 8:11:17 PM CST in News
FREDERICKTOWN (AP) — Authorities say a 74-year-old woman was killed in a house fire in southeastern Missouri's Madison County. ... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 4:22:00 PM CST in News
PLATTE CITY (AP) — Missouri authorities say one of 13 occupants of a van was killed when the vehicle crashed... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 3:29:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Works sent home all but eight members of its street crew Saturday afternoon because of the... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 2:43:00 PM CST in News
PULASKI COUNTY - A man was arrested after pointing a rifle at deputies and possibly endangering a female and several... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 2:43:00 PM CST in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A southwes tern Missouri man has been ordered to spend two decades in prison for sexually abusing... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 1:32:08 PM CST in News
---UPDATED SUNDAY MORNING (1/15/17)--- MID-MISSOURI - Our Live Doppler 8 First Alert Weather Team has been tracking this ice... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 12:02:00 PM CST in Weather
COLUMBIA - University of Missouri officials continue to monitor the forecast and urge students to check the weather in preparation... More >>
1 day ago January 14, 2017 Jan 14, 2017 Saturday, January 14 2017 Saturday, January 14, 2017 11:55:00 AM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 38°
7am 36°
8am 37°
9am 39°
10am 41°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

6:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
6:30a
King of the Hill
7:00a
Cheaters
7:30a
Cops Reloaded

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Celebrity Apprentice
9:00p
Timeless
7:00p
Howie Mandel All-Star Comedy Gala
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld