Jim and Donna Belote should not be surprised by the lack of prayer in Congress (“Senators should pray before they vote,” letters, Aug. 12).
On June 28, 1787, at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, after almost five weeks of disagreement and little progress, Benjamin Franklin took the floor and gave a lengthy speech in which he chastised the Convention for not asking for divine assistance in framing the new constitution. At the end of the speech, he made this formal motion:
“I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberation, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”
Roger Sherman of Connecticut properly seconded the motion. You would think that this simple and obvious motion would pass with overwhelming — if not unanimous — approval, but you would be wrong.
As Franklin recorded in his personal notes, only three or four spoke in favor of it. The opposition was so intense that the president of the convention, George Washington, simply ended the day’s business without taking a vote.
Indeed, the official Journal made no mention of the matter, and the subjects of God and prayer never came up again during the rest of the convention.
It should come as no surprise that our present day Senators are just as disdainful of prayer as the framers of our Constitution.