U.S. Sen. James Lankford, just 10 days after being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden, has been named co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
The Republican from the Oklahoma City area will head the prayer organization along with Rep. J. Randy Forbes, its founder.
Lankford said in a phone interview Thursday that a primary purpose of the caucus is to sponsor a weekly prayer meeting in the Capitol building for members of Congress.
“It’s a bi-partisan gathering, to be able to pray for the needs back in our districts, for our families and for each other,” he said. “Another thing the prayer caucus does is to address religious liberty issues around the country as they come up.”
He said the free exercise of religious liberty is facing challenges in the U.S., as Americans seek to live out the tenets of their faith in both private and public settings.
As two examples, he cited what he called efforts to restrict the right of military chaplains to pray according to their own consciences, and the Hobby Lobby lawsuit, in which the government sought to require business owners to provide forms of birth control that they said violated their conscience.
“Every generation has to protect every one of their rights, whether that’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech, or freedom of faith,” he said. “You have to remain diligent. …
“This caucus has worked together on a bipartisan basis to preserve the presence of religion, faith and morality in the marketplace of ideas. It is vitally important that Congress respects these values in public policy as well as culture.”
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SOURCE: Tulsa World