March 30, 2023
In his opening prayer on Tuesday, March 28, the Senate chaplain delivered a rare and pointed plea for lawmakers to act a day after a shooter killed six people at a private Christian school in Nashville—only the latest in a relentless barrage of gun violence in the United States, reports The Washington Post.
On the Senate floor, the chamber’s longtime chaplain, retired Rear Adm. Barry C. Black, alluded to the fact that three of the victims in the Monday shooting at the Covenant School were nine-year-old students.
“Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” Black declared in his distinctive baritone. “Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.’”
Black added: “Lord, deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous. Use them to battle the demonic forces that seek to engulf us. We pray, in your powerful name, amen.”
Black has served since 2003 as Senate chaplain, a “nonpartisan, nonpolitical and nonsectarian” elected officer of the Senate. In addition to opening daily sessions with a prayer and holding a weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, the chaplain provides “spiritual counseling and guidance to members and staff” and assists them with theological questions, according to the Senate website.
Clips of Black’s Tuesday morning prayer quickly spread online, with some criticizing it as “political” and others praising it as an unusually piercing call for action. In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday afternoon, Black avoided describing the kind of action he supports, emphasizing only that he is “not formulaic in how this thing should be tackled.”
“I am a human being who is reacting to the horrific [events] that all Americans, most Americans, are seeing,” Black said. “And this has been a priority of mine that we do better at attempting to solve this problem.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost