[Note from TB: Brian Lee is an R2K pastor in the United Reformed Church who serves a congregation in Washington D.C. Recently, Pastor Lee was invited to be guest chaplain to the House of Representatives—an honor he shares with Lloyd John Ogilvie, Michael Jackson, Earl Palmer, Hassan Qazwini, Ben Haden, Alisa Lasater-Wailoo, Bloomington's own Tom Ellsworth, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala, Joel Osteen, and Jerry Falwell's son Jonathan Falwell.
The invitation put Pastor Lee in an awkward position. How could he, a minister of the Gospel called to serve the Church, move over into the house of the civil magistrate and lead him in prayer? Pastor Lee announced publicly that, after receiving the invitation, he was "torn, and proceeded to have a lively debate with myself." Of course he went ahead.]
In defending his recent prayer before the nation’s legislature, Pastor Brian Lee calls the United States Congress an “anti-creedal body.” I couldn’t decide whether that sounded more like an astronomical object or a microbiological organism. Either thing is about as relevant as “anti-creedal body” to the U.S. Constitution's Religious Test Clause, which the pastor used to justify the form and content of his prayer.
Here’s the relevant constitutional text, in full, from the third and final paragraph in Article VI:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
The first thing you’ll note from the plain text is that the ban on religious tests has no special application to Congress as a body or to its members individually.