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Public Statements

Expressing Sense of Congress Regarding Need for Continued Availability of Religious Services to Members of the Armed Services

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, as we have all heard, we received the news yesterday that our priests and ministers could end up facing government arrest if they attempt to celebrate mass or to openly practice their faiths on a military base during this government shutdown--a shutdown that we did not want, a shutdown that could have been avoided had the President and Senator Reid agreed to negotiate with us.

This is so unfortunate. What we see is no mass, no communion, no confession, no prayer, no faith, no religion. Mr. Speaker, what we have to realize is that religious beliefs predate government. Government should not be able to tell those who are religious whether they can practice their faiths freely regardless of our government-funding situation.

What we are seeking is accountability, transparency, and reducing what the Federal Government spends. Government funding is irrelevant to the religious rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution, and some don't get to throw away the Constitution just because they are unwilling to sit down and negotiate and work with us through this process. We are not going to sit here and say, Even if you volunteer to serve the faithful, we are going to deny you.

So I ask you, Mr. Speaker: Will our priests and ministers this weekend--some of them on my post at Fort Campbell in my district--be arrested if they recite a Hail Mary? if they lead in prayer?

I think that it is time for us to pass this legislation to agree that we let our men and women in uniform pray. Let America pray. Government shouldn't arrest anyone because some want to play politics with this situation.


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