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As I See It

The price of prayer? In Congress, way too expensive



What is the cost of prayer? For most of us, giving thanks, or asking for forgiveness, carries no pricetag. Not so for the U.S. Congress. Since 2000, Congress has spent more than $10 million on prayers. Both the House and Senate employ a Chaplain, and both of those Chaplains have a small staff. The staff may be small, but the budget is big. The Senate Chaplain’s office has a budget of more than $435,000 this year. The Chaplain earns a salary of $172,500, while the Senate Chaplain earns $155,000. That is despite the fact that the House Chaplain has just one duty, according to House rules. That is “to offer a prayer at the commencement of each day’s sitting of the House.” The same is true for the Senate Chaplain. Of course, the House and Senate aren’t in session every day. So the prayers only have to be said on average about 135 days a year. And many times, the official chaplains bring in guest chaplains to deliver the opening prayers. If you do the math, which the Freedom From Religion Foundation has done, even assuming the congressional chaplains were delivering each prayer personally, that works out to more than $1600 per prayer. Assuming that each prayer lasts 90 seconds, these chaplains are earning more than $66,0000 an hour. Is that really how we want our tax dollars spent? I pray that Congress comes to its senses, and stops spending so much money to spread the good word.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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