A pastor who offered the opening prayer at a recent session of the U.S. House of Representatives is under fire for what some believe were veiled references to abortion and homosexuality, reports The Hill newspaper.
The Rev. George Dillard III of Peachtree City Christian Church near Atlanta served as guest chaplain of the House on May 14, having been invited by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., according to the House chaplain’s office. Kingston, however, told the paper he did not invite Dillard.
According to the report, Dillard asked God for “leaders who will seek your truth … who accept that a lie is a lie and not spin; that it is immorality and not an alternative lifestyle; that it is murder not a procedure; that it is stealing and not creative accounting; that rebellion is rebellion no matter what name we give it.”
Guidelines set by the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, the House chaplain, say guest chaplains’ prayers “must be free from personal political views, from sectarian controversies, from any intimations pertaining to foreign policy.”
“His remarks were rather judgmental, but some members think highly of him,” Coughlin told the Capitol Hill publication. “Afterward I got feedback [from members] that it was judgmental.”
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., a homosexual, told The Hill: “I don’t think Kingston knew that … [Dillard] was going to say this. The statement is a condemnation of gay people. There are appropriate places where you can say those things.”
Dillard told the paper his words referred to “the taking a human life for no other reason than convenience … whether it is abortion, euthanasia or genocide.” He also said his “alternative lifestyle” comment was referring to adultery and pedophilia.
“The word of God is very clear,” he said. “There can be no sex outside of marriage.”
“I am sorry if I have hurt anybody,” Dillard told the paper.
Pastor Joe Wright of the Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kan., stirred similar controversy in 1996 when he gave the opening prayer at a session of the Kansas House of Representatives.
The text of his prayer has been circulated over the Internet for years. Wright said, in part:
… We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We’ve exploited the poor and called it a lottery. We’ve neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of right to life, we have killed abortionists.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it taxes. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. …