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Oct 06 2012

The Congressional Prayer Caucus and the House Science Committee — A Disturbing Combination

First we had Congressman Todd Akin’s insane theory that a woman can’t get pregnant from a rape because their body somehow knows the difference and does something to not get pregnant. Soon after Akin made that utterly unscientific statement, people started talking about how this Bible-believing-batshitterist was, incredibly, on the House Science Committee.

Now we have Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia stating that evolution and the big bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.” And, guess what? Broun is also on the House Science Committee.

Here’s some more of what Broun said:

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

In 2011, during a period of that especially crazy weather that those pesky scientists tend to attribute to climate change, another member of the Science Committee, Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas, came up with a very scientific solution. He introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to pray for fair weather. His resolution resolved that “people in the United States should join together in prayer to humbly seek fair weather conditions, including calm skies in the South and lower Midwest where tornadoes have ravaged homes and uprooted families, and for rain where rain is most needed in the South and Southwest, where devastating drought and dangerous wildfires have destroyed homes, businesses, and lives.”

What nobody seems to have noticed is that Akin, Broun, Neugebauer, and all the other members of Congress spewing these idiotic faith-based “science” theories have something else in common besides being ignorant twits. They all belong to Congressman Randy Forbes’s Congressional Prayer Caucus. These are the wingnuts who do things like holding prayer vigils to pray that votes on legislation go their way.

I first became aware of the Congressional Prayer Caucus back in 2007, when the founder of this nut brigade, Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia, introduced H. Res. 888, his resolution “Affirming the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and expressing support for designation of the first week in May as ‘American Religious History Week’ for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.” That resolution, which has been re-introduced several times since 2007, was a litany of historical revisionism, with seventy-five “Whereas” clauses packed with same American history lies used by Forbes’s good buddy pseudo-historian David Barton.

Then, because of working for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I happened to notice something else about the Congressional Prayer Caucus. There is always a disproportionate number of Prayer Caucus members on the House Armed Services Committee. There are roughly twice as many Prayer Caucus members on the Armed Services Committee as there are proportionally in the House as a whole.

Knowing that both Akin and Broun are Prayer Caucus members as well as being members of the House Science Committee, I decided to look at the make-up of the Science Committee, and here’s what I found:

Eleven members of the Science Committee are also members of Randy Forbes’s Prayer Caucus. This is disturbing since we’re talking about people who reject science being on a Science Committee, but the number is not out of proportion. Nearly a quarter of the members of our House of Representatives now belong to the Prayer Caucus (OK, that’s disturbing enough in itself), but the House Science Committee has forty members, making eleven Prayer Caucus members about a quarter of that committee.

But then I looked at the subcommittees of the Science Committee, and that’s where things get really disturbing. Five of the twelve members of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education are Prayer Caucus members. This is the subcommittee that has “legislative jurisdiction and general oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to science policy and science education.” It also has jurisdiction over research and development relating to health and biomedical programs. So, what we’ve got here is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the very issues and programs where religious beliefs are most likely to clash with science being disproportionately packed with the people most likely to go with religion over science.

The biggest disproportion of all? Of the 105 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, only four are Democrats (3.8%), but two of the four Democrats (50%) on the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education are Prayer Caucus members.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Yes, it’s all very disturbing. We’ve always had these sorts among us, in power, but it gets scarier when they are at least nominally united in an organization, especially when it is something legally defined as a part of the gov. Particularly something which should really have no possibility of a legal existence in government on first principles.

  2. 2
    Brad

    Can we just let the south secede again yet? Please? Would the rest of the country even miss anything besides Disney World?

  3. 3
    gregorylynn

    “Bible-believing-batshitterist”

    I’m stealing that phrase.

  4. 4
    Quine

    I just hope that the FFRF and MRFF can use this to show people that the kind of theocratic worries that we have are not a matter of exaggeration on our part.

  5. 5
    Crudely Wrott

    Denialism: it’s the glue that holds the right wing republicans together.

    They need it; they have so little else to either unite them or inspire others to join them.

    Among their various superstitions is the notion that being against modern thought will lead us all into the future, the glorious future, full of transparent gold streets and choruses of advanced beings.

    Their longings are loathsome of reality and consumed with the fantastical. Their deepest desire is not that everyone else join them there but rather that everyone else dies and does so endlessly. While they watch.

    The party of love.

  6. 6
    joewinpisinger1

    This is disturbing… I am personally all for prayer but the same God that tells us to pray gave us a brain too. Reminds me of the person praying for a miracle and God sent a helicopter and they died and went to Heaven. They asked God why he did not send help and he asked them why they would not get into the helicopter. Science is a helicopter.

  7. 7
    Q.E.D

    joewinpisinger1,

    why are you “all for prayer”? It has never, not once, in the history of human kind been proven to work.

    Also, “same God”: which ones(s)are you referring to?

    here is a partial list

  8. 8
    Ex Patriot

    The repugthug party , racist, homophobic, misogynistic, bible thumping, lets bomb another coutry, sorry excuses for human beings.

  9. 9
    blf

    [Prayer] has never, not once, in the history of human kind been proven to work.

    The preying people are kept away from the machine-guns and bombs and machetes and iron maidens for a few minutes every so often. Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep them away from the children, or simply keep them away.

  10. 10
    RW Ahrens

    The preying people are kept away…

    Was that deliberate or just a serendipitous spelling error? Either way, it fits…

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