Last week, Catholic congresspeople on both sides of the aisle lashed out against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) when he abruptly forced the resignation of House Chaplain Pat Conroy. Now newly reinstated after an extremely brief hiatus, Conroy lead a new prayer with shots directly squarely at his unlikely nemesis.
It quickly became evident Ryan was miffed at the chaplain for months after Conroy led a prayer ahead of the vote on the enormous Republican giveaway to America’s wealthiest and Trump’s only legislative victory so far – the tax scam. The prayer incensed the oversensitive Ryan because it was obviously “critical” of the bill.
Initially, Conroy gave in to Ryan’s demand and stepped down. But as calls for the retiring speaker to explain himself grew, Conroy rescinded his resignation and “returned” to the House this Monday, offering this prayer on his first day back:
— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) May 7, 2018
The first paragraph is a fairly standard prayer, though it does urge members of Congress to “be encouraged and empowered by their constituents to be their best selves in serving in the people’s house,” thankfully acknowledging the power of the people and not conflation Congress with a house of worship.
It’s the second paragraph in particular which Conroy calls on Article IV, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution:
‘May the disagreements that seem to perjure give way to good faith efforts to find solutions to the issues facing your nation in a manner consistent with the great traditions of our Republican form of government.”
Though slightly controversial because it was never explicitly defined by the founding fathers, Article IV explicitly states “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
Context clues from the founding father’s other writings have helped scholars to interpret “The Guarantee Clause,” as it is called colloquially, that all U.S. states must be grounded in republican principles such as the consent of the governed.
While a fairly brilliant and eloquent burn on the chaplain’s part, it’s still baffling why there are any men or women of the cloth present on the House, Senate, or White House grounds considering the U.S. Constitution also promises a separation of church and state.
Properly enacting a secular government is an argument for another day. For now, it’s nice to watch Paul Ryan’s final days in office burn around him.