Did a prayer for the poor cost the House chaplain his job?

Did a prayer for the poor get a Jesuit priest run out of the U.S. Capitol?

The chaplain of the House of Representatives, Rev. Patrick Conroy, was forced to resign by Speaker Paul Ryan, NBC reports.

Ryan isn’t talking, but GOP and Democratic representatives think it has something to do with this prayer, offered as the House debated a tax bill, which favored those who think you can shove a camel through the eye of needle.

“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,” Conroy said.

“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,” he added.

The nerve.

“Is nothing sacred?” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-W.V, tweeted.

Speaker Ryan’s press secretary said the decision to resign was the padre’s, something that Conroy clearly said was not the case in his resignation letter.

Conroy says he doesn’t know why Ryan fired him but thinks it’s the prayer based on what he was told after he gave it.

“Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,” Conroy says Ryan, a conservative Catholic, told the Jesuit.

“If you are hospital chaplain, you are going to pray about health,” he tells the New York Times. “If you are a chaplain of Congress, you are going to pray about what Congress is doing.”

  • Mike Worcester

    Soon to be former-Speaker Ryan is an acolyte of Ayn Rand. Caring for the poor is not in their worldview. That Rev. Conroy tried to get the House to care was his ultimate sin in the eyes of the Randians.

    • Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

      — Proverbs 14:31

      • jon

        “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
        Matthew 19:24

        There is no need to pray for the poor in a christian religion, it’s the rich we should pray for.

        • Guest

          A peasant and the village’s richest man were walking along. The rich man asked the peasant “If the Devil appeared before us right now, who do you think he would take?”.

          The peasant answered “Oh, I am sure he would take me. He already has you.”

      • Guest


        • The twist – I’m an atheist.

          • jon

            We’ve got enough Christian fundamentalists quoting the old testament, if you really want to give them something to chew on the gospels are where it’s at (fundies don’t seem to be fond of the gospels, they prefer old testament law and the letters to the early church over the teachings of Christ.)

  • >>Padre, you just got to stay out of politics<<

    Perhaps ALL religion should stay out of politics.

    With that said, this speaks to the mindset of "I got mine" Ryan.

    • I was reminded of this post today, which came as local bishops sent a letter to the then governor asking him to apply religious principles in the health care debate that was going on at that time.

      Unless, it’s about abortion, the intersection of religion and politics is mostly for show.


      • Mike

        “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

        Matthew 6:5

    • jon

      So I intentionally didn’t post it yesterday because I didn’t want to bring politics into a heartwarming article about unity of religions… but today in an article about religion and government…

      “The ‘Make America Great Again’ hat was part of his spiritual belief,”

      Claiming your MAGA hat is religious headgear is does not make it so in the eyes of at least one judge…

    • Kensington

      Got ours Party. GOP.

  • Rob

    And God said: “Saint Paul of Ryan, thee and thy Party of Personal Responsibility are putzes of epic proportion.”

  • MrE85

    I’m okay with this, as long as the new House Chaplain is black, lesbian, and begins every prayer with a thunderous “Listen up, sinners!”

    • jon

      So long as the word “smote” and “behooves” are in each of the prayers I’m fine with it.

  • lindblomeagles

    Whatever happened to separation of church and state? How about Freedom of Speech, which, oddly, nobody here seems to inquire about. Curiously, “Freedom of Speech was actually meant to protect the very prayer the Chaplain just gave — speech ABOUT GOVERNMENT ILLS freely flowing INSTEAD OF BEING STIFLED by the government. Am I to assume that the only time our nation will discuss Freedom of Speech is when said speech is about some racist comment echoed by an American citizen against another American citizen? Have we now decided our American Churches must be wholly supportive of the American Government like the Anglican Church used to be wholly supportive of King George in 1776? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Jared

      I disagree with this move but probably because I agree with the chaplain’s message, if a chaplain said some garbage about marriage limitations I’d probably cheer his firing.

      But it’s not really a freedom of speech issue nor government stepping in on the church. He got fired for speaking out against the people that hired him, generally a bad workplace dynamic but not surprising considering the workplace and pretty sure it doesn’t violate the constitution. And he didn’t get kicked out of the church by the government so not really seeing that last analogy.

      • lindblomeagles

        And yet Jared, if this was an individual making a racist comment (see the Syracuse University and Florida incident last week) or a college professor saying something negative about the death of Barb Bush (see the Fresno State incident), Free Speechers would be arguing the contrary of the point you’re making right now. That’s my issue here. CLEARLY, the Chaplain asked for a fair government, and it cost him his job. But nobody is asking about Free Speech Rights. Professor Jarrar said Barb Bush was a racist and she’s glad the so-called witch was dead, and the Free Speech Community was in uproar. Get it now?

        • Jared

          I don’t really see the connection to be honest. First off, Jarrar wasn’t fired so the people in an uproar aren’t arguing that free speech was violated. Second, the key point the university made was that she was acting as a private citizen and not in connection to her job. That’s obviously not the case here with the chaplain. As for the racist Syracuse video, they were doing this as a university organization so I doubt any free speech argument would hold up.

          Just because “Free Speechers” say someone’s free speech is being violated doesn’t make it so, see jon’s comment about the MAGA hat. I’m not a constitutional lawyer but I’d imagine no free speech rights were actually infringed here (seems similar to if a congressional aide spoke out against the policies of the person they’re working for, just much worse optics).

          And clearly people are upset about this (judging by the comments and the fact that it’s a story) so it’s kind of the same response. It’s understandable to be upset and criticize Ryan for the move but trying to argue free speech rights seems like a misinterpretation to me.

      • MikeB

        It’s like hiring a plumber to replace your pipes then firing the plumber when he replaced your pipes as directed.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I don’t see this as a separation issue. Congress has had a chaplain for as long as there has been a Congress. It’s not viewed as an establishment issue. I think it falls more to the “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” clause of the first amendment. The Congress as a group of Americans have the right to exercise their religion. A chaplain in this situation would do best to focus on the work before the body as opposed to purely religious content. He wants his words to resonate with Keith Ellison and Adam Schiff both of whom aren’t Christians, as much as the Christian members of the House. (At this point in time I can find now record of Atheists in the House.)

      Your comparison to the Anglican Church fails because the English monarch is by definition the head of the Church of England and members of that religion would be expected to show deference to monarch. (King George then, Queen Elizabeth today.)

  • Guest

    IF true, it reflects poorly on Ryan, not the padre.

    Be proud of being fired when the reason is wrong.

    • The father’s example is standing on principles. The message was lost on his audience.

  • EarthToBobby
  • Controlling the message is really important to Ryan and his GOP colleagues. Their shaky facade of “tax cuts for everyone” doesn’t stand up well under even the lightest scrutiny, and everything they do seems to underpin their hatred of poor people. So yeah, the padre’s words probably did bite. At least he walks away with his dignity – unlike Ryan.

  • boB from WA

    To Paul Ryan it doesn’t matter what he does now, since he will no longer be a member of the House as of 12/31 and doesn’t have to answer to his “constituents”. Can you say “lame duck”. (And I use the term “lame” in its various meanings).

  • AmiSchwab

    simple, separation of church and state.

  • Carol Goodson

    If religion is not about politics too, then it is evading its responsibility to promote justice on earth.

  • The nerve of some people! The GOP is sure gonna be making some noise about this “war on Christianity”. I imagine Hannity and Limbaugh and Fox & Friends, et al. are all going to make this deliberate attempt to stifle Christianity, especially Christian prayer-making in Congress, their full attention.

    Oh. Wait.