As America continues its abominable spiral towards a dominionist theocracy, the news that some members of the House were angry at Speaker Paul Ryan for forcing out the “wrong” kind of Christian as House Chaplain was somewhat surprising. It is not shocking that Ryan forced the “wrong” kind of Christian out of his position; only an ignoramus is unaware that there is a “purity” movement in the religious Republican movement. What is curious is that both Democrats and some Republicans were “upset” as if Ryan’s move took them by surprise.
The minor furor last week was over Ryan unilaterally “firing” the Reverend Patrick Conroy, the highly-respected Jesuit House chaplain and warmly-regarded spiritual counselor to members of Congress. There are conflicting reports, and conjecture about why Ryan forced Reverend Conroy out, but it seems relatively clear what prompted Ryan’s action. Unwilling at first to cause any more conflict, the obedient servant Reverend Conroy succumbed to Ryan’s pressure and submitted his resignation.
That action vexed a bipartisan group of House members who demanded that Ryan explain his justification for what is certainly a rare move. In a letter to Ryan, the bipartisan group of House representatives wrote:
“We are seeking additional information regarding your decision to request the resignation of Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the House of Representatives. The sensitive nature of this situation requires a description of the process followed to arrive at the decision and a justification for that decision.”
One Republican who was particularly revolted at Ryan’s action, Representative Peter King (R-NY), told reporters:
“To be the first House chaplain to be removed in the history of Congress, in the middle of a term, raises serious questions. I think we deserve more of an explanation of why. Was there political pressure?
To answer Mr. King’s question; of course there was “pressure,. But it was not necessarily “political pressure;” it was theocratic pressure. And it surrounds two specific “incidents” that devotees of America’s bastardized version of Christianity are not going to comport in their Christian Dominionist theocracy.
However now, the Reverend Conroy is not going to comport being “pressured out” and on Thursday he rescinded his resignation. As Conroy noted, in agreement with a gang of Democrats and Republicans, he did not do anything wrong and expects any action taken against him to be done correctly; no matter the outrage from evangelicals for being the “wrong kind of Christian.”
Ryan and the Republicans’ evangelical caucus took umbrage at Reverend Conroy’s prayer appealing for members of Congress to follow the “structure” of the nation that guarantees equity for all Americans; including those who are “struggling.” It is noteworthy that Mr. Conroy was also appealing to members of Congress, primarily religious Republican members, to follow mythological Jesus Christ’s teaching to help all people, especially “those who continue to struggle.”
After a few years on the job, Reverend Conroy was aware that Republicans intended on heaping more wealth on the rich at the expense of “those who are struggling” under the guise of “tax reform.” He likely hoped a “prayerful” appeal might convince some religious Republicans to harken to Christ’s teachings about helping those who are struggling. It was a valiant effort, but Republicans are never going to consider the plight of any American who is not rich and they damn sure are not going to abide a Chaplain appealing to them as Christians.
It is glaringly apparent that Paul Ryan and his heretical evangelical cohorts are apostates to the “Christianity” Jesus preached; they are fierce adherents of “prosperity gospel” that particularly targets “those who are struggling” to enrich the already wealthy. Even atheists and agnostics are likely aware that the mythical Jesus of the Christian bible spent the majority of his time preaching that helping those who are struggling at any cost is paramount to being a “follower of Christ.”
The prayer that offended Paul Ryan and his band of evangelical heretics occurred during last November’s tax reform debate and included an appeal for members of Congress to be fair and consider the plight of all Americans – including those who are suffering. Reverend Conroy prayed thusly:
“Bless the members of this assembly as they set upon the work of these hours, of these days. Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great nation.
As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Ryan was irritated over the prayer and bluntly told Reverend Conroy, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”
If a Christian prayer for fairness for Americans who “continue to struggle” is wrong, then mythological Jesus Christ was a criminal of epic proportions. If Paul Ryan or any prosperity gospel devotees had ever opened their New Testament, they would be well aware that Reverend Conroy was not being political – he was being a “follower of Christ” who commanded his disciples to teach and preach about helping those who are struggling.
Ryan said that “a few” Republicans complained that they wanted “a more active Pastor.” No doubt a few Republicans complained that Reverend Conroy prayed like a “Christian” by appealing to Republicans to consider the plight of “those who are struggling.”
It is noteworthy that he also did the unthinkable in the GOP’s aspiring Christian theocracy by inviting a Muslim to offer a prayer. However, it is almost certain the real issue was the Christian clergyman calling for consideration for those who are struggling – something that is anathema to Republican evangelicals promoting the heretical “prosperity gospel.” It is “gospel” that uses Christianity to justify living to attain “personal empowerment, personal wealth, and personal health.” Prosperity gospel is, no matter what Christian cult one subscribes, contradictory to everything the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, preached incessantly while he was alleged to live as a man on Earth.
Although it damn sure should be as unconstitutional to employ a “House Chaplain” as it is to designate a national day of prayer, or claim all Americans “trust in god,” or pledge allegiance to a flag “under god,” it is an abomination that a chaplain was forced out because he was the wrong kind of Christian. And by dog, that is the real reason Ryan pushed Reverend Conroy to “resign.” Because since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, the religious right has pushed its agenda down the American people’s throats with valuable assistance from that dirty lying sinner Donald Trump, his equally despicable underling Mike “preacher” Pence, and the nasty Republican evangelical caucus.
It is worth noting that Republicans who claim Christianity as the be all, end all to the world’s woes were vicious in a months-long set of attacks on Pope Francis because, like Reverend Conroy, he followed his namesake’s teachings and appealed for attention to income inequality and “those who continue to struggle.” Those same religious Republicans love the Pope and Catholic clergy when they support the GOP effort to control and dominate women, but praying for fairness for “those who are struggling” crosses a “prosperity gospel” line they will not accept without a fight.
As Representative Steve King said, Ryan ousting Reverend Conroy in the middle of the term, the first time in American history, does raise serious questions, but he surely knows all the answers. Reverend Conroy is the wrong kind of Christian and he committed a major sin by praying for so-called Christian Republicans to do something they consider an atrocity – give consideration to Americans who are struggling.
There is another message for Americans who still refuse to see the creeping evangelical theocracy threatening this country, especially Americans who are Christians. When the evangelical fundamentalists take control of the government, something they are on a crusade to complete by 2020, there will be no safe “Christian.” If any American doesn’t believe it, consider the plight of the “wrong” kind of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or any country controlled by religious extremists. The only difference in America, at least for now, is that the “wrong kind of Christian” serving as House Chaplain can rescind a forced resignation and avoid being beheaded.