WASHINGTON — "People came in here and prayed, they sang hymns, they worshiped God -- it was part of our history."
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, was talking about prayer services inside the U.S. Capitol.
In the very hall where the House of Representatives first met in Washington, D.C.
Most Americans probably would be stunned to learn that, in fact, the Capitol was actually turned into a church, once a week, for decades.
A flagrant violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause and the concept of the separation of church and state?
Not according to the man who coined the phrase.
Or the man who wrote most of the Constitution.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both attended non-denominational Christian worship services held inside the very chamber where Congress met from 1807 to 1857, now called Statuary Hall.
Gohmert told WND, it is a long-forgotten fact of history that shows just how far the modern interpretation of the separation of church and state has strayed from the original intent of the founders.
Not only were church services held within the House on Sundays, but, for generations, the Capitol was transformed weekly into the largest church on the East Coast.
Jefferson and Madison were not the only Founding Fathers who felt God had a place in the halls of government.
President George Washington believed the fate of the new country rested in its citizens' fidelity to God. That is why he dedicated America to God.
"Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014″ commemorates the events of April 30, 1789, when, after being sworn in at Federal Hall, President Washington, accompanied by Congress, proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel where, as one of his first official acts, the president offered a prayer of dedication to God on America’s behalf.
Now in its third year, the event is the brainchild of Dan Cummins, pastor of Bridlewood Church in Bullard, Texas.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., will host, Mike Huckabee will emcee, and some of America’s most principled public servants will commemorate the 225th inaugural anniversary of President George Washington, with members of Congress and national Christian leaders honoring the first U.S. president as a man of Christian faith.
Several lawmakers will offer prayers on behalf of the nation, our president and his Cabinet, the Supreme Court and its justices and members of Congress.
Sign up here to watch the webcast of "Washington: A Man of Prayer" from the U.S. Capitol on May 7, 2014 at 7:30 EST. You can be there virtually and experience the history-in-the-making, the camaraderie, the inspiration and the prayers, just by signing up on this page for FREE.
Gohmert helped bring some of America's forgotten sacred history to light when he asked the Congressional Research Service to do an objective, non-partisan review to learn if the things he had read and learned about prayer in the Capitol were, in its opinion, true.
The congressman told WND that as he read the report he learned how Jefferson, the man who originated the term separation of church and state had a much different idea in mind than the modern interpretation of that expression.
"[I]t was to be a one-way wall, where the state would not dictate to the church. But the church would certainly play a role in the state," said the former chief justice of the Texas 12th Court of Appeals.
"So, that's a little different idea than a lot of people have about separation of church and state, including some our esteemed Supreme Court (justices) who are not quite as familiar with our history as they probably should be," added Gohmert.
He pointed out, no one in the country was forced to come to church when religious services were held in a government building.
"As long as it was voluntary, they saw nothing coercive or inappropriate about having church here."
And, under the original understanding of the First Amendment, the government of the United States was not allowed to dictate what a church could or could not do.
Gohmert recalled how the nation's religious traditions trace back to its origin.
"When George Washington took the oath of office he put his hand on the Bible and finished the oath by adding the words 'So help me God,' as every president since him has done."
After that, he addressed Congress in New York, then headed to St. Paul's Chapel. The congressman noted that chapel is still standing and was the only site at ground zero that was not destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Order WND's “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” and the bestselling book that inspired it, “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn, to learn why ground zero in New York is sacred ground, especially St. Paul's Chapel, where President George Washington prayed. Learn the stunning parallels between the fall of ancient Israel and America’s current struggles, and what our nation must do to survive.
"And they prayed for God to bless the United States of America. Prayers that have been answered for 225 years."
Gohmert said, in his estimation, God has blessed America more than any nation in the history of the world, even more than King Solomon's Israel.
If America has been so blessed, why does the congressman believe "Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014" is so important?
"God has answered our prayers. This is no time to stop praying. This is a time to continue to beseech God to bless this nation. And if we seek Him, we will find Him. If we ask, it will be answered."
Cummins calls this year's celebration of "Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014″ on May 7, now in its third consecutive year, "a historic first" because, even though the event is exclusively for members of Congress, churches around the world will be able to watch on a global webcast and join in offering prayers for our nations and its leaders.
The event will be broadcast globally by the Daystar Television Network, with WorldNetDaily Films and CBN News providing the satellite feed from Statuary Hall.
Churches can register online to host the webcast during their Wednesday midweek services at "Washington: A Man of Prayer."
In addition to Bachmann and Huckabee, those attending "Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014" will include Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; and Reps. Louie Gohmert,R-Texas; Steve King, R-Iowa; Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.; Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Corrine Brown, D-Fla.; Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.; Jeff Miller, R-Fla.; Diane Black, R-Tenn.; Steve Womack, R-Ark.; and Chris Stewart, R-Utah; Jim Bridenstine R-Okla.; John Mica R-Fla.
As a bipartisan event, invitations have been sent to all 535 members of the 113th Congress.
Chaplains of the House and Senate, Fr. Patrick Conroy and the Rev. Barry Black will also participate. The United States Marine Band will also perform.
Christian leaders participating include the program director for the event, Dr. Jim Garlow, as well as Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., Dr. Robert Jeffress, Phyllis Schlafly, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Star Parker, Penny Nance, Dr. Peter Lillback, Bill Federer, Bishop Angel Nunez, Rosemary Schindler Garlow, Charmaine Yoest, Sergio De La Mora, Tony Perkins, Samuel Rodriguez and Rafael Cruz (father of Sen. Ted Cruz.)
Downloadable promotional materials are available "Washington: A Man of Prayer" website. Also, free school curriculum (K-12) on the historical events surrounding the inauguration of President George Washington has been provided by the Brook Hill School of Bullard, Texas.
WND will run a preview piece on "Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014" every week during the 10 weeks leading up to the event on May 7.
Read these WND articles on "Washington: A Man of Prayer, 2014":
See a clip of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn speaking during last year's events:
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth.