Michele Bachmann Introduces a Prayer Amendment into Defense Bill

What crazy thing did Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) do now?

The Secular Coalition for America explains it like this:

[Bachmann] introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that would allow chaplains in the military to use specifically-Christian prayers at official military events.

Here’s the exact wording of Bachmann’s amendment:

#56 Would ensure that any chaplain serving in the US Armed Forces, if called upon to lead a prayer outside of a religious service, would be free to close that prayer according to the dictates of the chaplain’s conscience.

Considering that chaplains are disproportionately Christian, this is a thinly-veiled attempt at getting Christian prayers said at things like graduations and promotion ceremonies.

The SCA is obviously opposing this amendment:

Given chaplains’ mandate to serve a religiously pluralistic population, it is unacceptable for them to advance any one religious viewpoint over any other, including monotheism over other types of theism or nontheism. To change the current policy and permit references to Jesus, for example, is an insult to minority religions and nontheists of all stripes who serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces.

Yesterday, though, the amendment died.

AU Legislative Director Aaron Schuham learned of the scheme on Wednesday while scanning the defense bill’s hundreds of amendments to check for potential church-state problems. He and AU’s legislative team quickly swung into action, notifying our allies and organizing a lobbying effort aimed at U.S. House leaders.

The effort paid off. The House floor schedule announced today does not include the proposed Bachmann amendment. Apparently it has been ruled out of order.

Bachmann should be ruled “out of order” often.

Well, I hardly think it was only AU — a lot of people were angry about this — but anyone who contacted their representatives helped.

(via Paliban Daily)

  • JD

    Oh dear. She’s the same lady that almost suggested that there be HUAC-like investigations on members of Congress for being “anti-American”. She quickly backpedaled and lied about what she meant, though the intentions of her earlier statement was pretty clear to me.

    That, and everything else she does tells me that she isn’t just batshit insane. I think if there was a queen bat, it would be her.

  • tlawren

    I’ve always wondered why there are still chaplains in the military at all. If you look the requirements to be a chaplain in any of the branches, all of them exclude non-believers. I know, it may sound silly for an atheist to be a chaplain, but the duties of a chaplain extend beyond religion; they also include acting as counselors. Now, if you asked me (I’m a marine veteran too), I would never want to go see a chaplain for counsel. There is just something about seeking counsel from a person who, in the back of their mind, looks down on me due to my lack of belief. Furthermore, I find it troubling that we have military (government) jobs that discriminate on the basis of religion. This is really the main point of my post. Why do we still have chaplains when in order to be a chaplain, one has to be religious. Non-religious people are excluded categorically.

  • Jake E

    tlawren has a good point. Can someone explain how chaplains in the armed services align with the seperation of church and state?

  • Bob

    Bachmann is simply one of the members of Congress seeking to codify Christianity as America’s religion of record, when there isn’t supposed to be one.

    They will misquote our founding fathers, misrepresent facts, and otherwise lie and put forward dishonest claptrap to promote their religious agenda.

    There are times I don’t think the general public understands how dangerous these people are.

  • fritzy

    Michelle Bachman is a dominionist, plain and simple. People of good conscience should do their part to emphasize this fact.

    This latest from Bachman should come as no surprise. Congrats to the House for getting something right this time.

    I agree with tlawren. Even when I was a believer, I saw a problem with having chaplins in the military. It makes even less sense to me now.

  • Nora

    I wish Chaplains were held to this rule more often. One night for our evening prayer while underway, our Chaplain gave us a fire-and-brimstone prayer about the mark of the beast and how he would never accept a microchip. Yeah. (He’s pentecostal.) He also includes references to Genesis and other biblical stories during leadership training. I’m sure he’s not the only one out there unabashedly pushing his Christian POV.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Since chaplains in the military are hired to service a pluralistic group, this amendment is really insisting that they aren’t asked to do their jobs properly, which is just asinine.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Always nice to see Michelle Bachmann’s biased and illegal ideas get shot down.

    I wonder if her and Al Franken have had any discussions? Curious minds would like to know.

  • Edmond

    There’s a lot of things I don’t understand about politics and law, but this one has always baffled me. How is it that you can tack these amendments onto bills that have nothing to do with them? It makes no sense.

    I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode where a meteor is on track to destroy the town of Springfield, and Congress is putting together a bill to evacuate everyone, until one senator stands up and says “I want to tack on a rider to that bill. Thirty million dollars of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.” The bill is booed and voted down. Brilliant.

  • SpencerDub

    Edmond- that’s just the way our legislative system works. In my opinion, the fact that legislators can tack on unrelated Christmas-tree bills like this is one of the most broken parts of the system.

    And you’re exactly right that it makes no sense.

  • Richard Wade

    Every time I’m about to decide that Michele Bachmann is a corrupt, lying, two-faced demagogue, she comes up with something completely fruitcake looney.

    Every time I’m about to decide that she is a complete fruitcake lunatic, she comes up with something so stupid, she makes rocks look smart.

    Every time I’m about to decide that she’s more stupid than rocks, she comes up with corrupt, lying, two-faced demagogy.

    I don’t think it’s possible to be so crooked, so crazy and so stupid all at the same time. How she is able to switch from one to the other so quickly is beyond me.

    Could there actually be three of her, like the triplet sister witches in so many myths and fairy tales, each with their own distinct form of evil?

  • Erp

    Chaplains exist in the military supposedly because of the free exercise part of the first amendment. Since the government frequently has control over soldiers’ lives 7/24 they may be restricted in practicing their religion (especially since some of those situations don’t allow civilians to be present). Chaplains seem to serve two roles. First to provide appropriate religious services for as many people as possible including those not of their own faith (e.g., a Christian chaplain seeing that Jews in the unit have appropriate items to celebrate Passover) without judgment (barring stuff that is outright illegal). Second to be someone soldiers can talk to outside the hierarchy and sometimes help deal with bureaucracy (e.g., compassionate leave if a spouse is dying). Ideally they should follow a code of ethics like that of most hospital chaplains: no proselytizing (though many/some don’t). Theoretically some atheists might already be chaplains (the Unitarian Universalists have some military chaplains and UUs have many atheistic ministers [not to mention Reform Judaism]). I also see no legal reason why major humanist organizations couldn’t become endorsers (there are almost certainly political reasons to bar the way).


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