State Of Faith: Church And State

9 years 10 months 4 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
COLUMBIA - Close to 25 environmental activists from mid-Missouri boarded a bus bound for Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon headed to... More >>
4 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:35:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Public Safety is preparing to respond to potential dangerous flooding in the forecast beginning... More >>
5 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:20:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - As prom season begins, the Jefferson City Police Department will start sending out more officers to monitor... More >>
5 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:01:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Fatal accidents involving drugged driving have surpassed those involving drunk driving, according to a new study from... More >>
6 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 5:36:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS — Thousands of workers in St. Louis are preparing to see a jump in pay now that the... More >>
8 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 4:27:17 PM CDT in News
FULTON - Autopsy results confirmed the body found by the Fulton Police Department Monday is 31-year-old Carl L. DeBrodie, the... More >>
8 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:51:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Some Columbia utility customers are complaining because of recent past due notices sent out for the month of... More >>
9 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:29:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Lincoln University’s Board of Curators announced Thursday it will suspend tenure and earned advancements for its faculty.... More >>
9 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:24:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Four teenagers were taken to the hospital Friday morning following a vehicle crash on I-70, according to the... More >>
9 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:58:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Music enhances and develops the life of 20-year-old Nathan Walton on a daily basis. "I play a... More >>
10 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:01:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Missouri Task Force 1 sent a team to Southern Missouri to help with the possible flooding in the... More >>
10 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:01:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The UM System Board of Curators approved amendments to the University of Missouri-Columbia's collected rules governing faculty standards... More >>
10 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:32:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The pollen count in Missouri is the highest it has been in ten years, but that might not... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:23:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A pilot program targeting food insecurity wrapped up at Rock Bridge High School Friday. The program, designed by... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:06:00 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A Missouri woman has been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection to a fatal crash late... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:02:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three people have been charged in the stabbing death of a Kansas man who was... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 12:54:51 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local agencies held a public meeting Friday to... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 12:53:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A zoo in western Missouri will soon have a saltwater tank allowing visitors to pet... More >>
11 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 12:46:58 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 58°
1am 55°
2am 55°
3am 54°
4am 55°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:37p
Late Night with Seth Meyers
12:37a
Last Call with Carson Daly
1:07a
The Insider
12:00a
Raising Hope
12:30a
Cheaters
1:00a
Cheaters

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld