Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia says that with “so many negative things going on in the world today,” Americans would be well served to remember the power of prayer.

To that end, Mr. Forbes and about 40 other members of Congress from both parties and 19 states will gather outside the Capitol today at noon to issue what they are describing as a call to bring “America back to prayer.”

“Every politician says ‘God bless America.’ But do you really mean that?” said Mr. Forbes, a Republican. “If you don’t, maybe we should start saying, ‘Have a good day,’ or something like that.”

Getting members of Congress to attend a bipartisan press conference is almost never an easy task, and when religion is mixed in with politics, it could be easy to dismiss it as grandstanding.

However, Mr. Forbes says the group put politics aside and agreed on three unifying principles: “The historical importance of prayer, the power of prayer and a recognition that it’s time the nation needs to come together and pray.”

Mr. Forbes insists the gatherings have no political connotations beyond simply praying for the health of the nation.

Some of the Democratic lawmakers attending include North Carolina Reps. Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler.

Twenty-one of the attending lawmakers are scheduled to give 30-second speeches testifying to the power of prayer. “This is something I’ve gotten tremendous support for,” Mr. Forbes said.

Mr. Forbes said that about 18 months ago he began meeting in a small room off the House floor with fellow lawmakers who gathered to pray for the future of the country for about five minutes. He says those meetings continue even though control of Congress has switched from Republican to Democrat.

“[House Majority Leader Steny H.] Hoyer was very supportive,” Mr. Forbes said, while noting that neither party’s leadership has explicitly endorsed the meetings.

After today’s press conference, Mr. Forbes says he and the other participating lawmakers plan to hold similar meetings in all 50 state capitals.

“If we have several thousand people praying for five minutes for the future of our country, that creates a spiritual fire wall around America that is pretty significant,” he said.

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