(TMU) — There’s no question about it—things have gotten rough in Congress, especially given the past week’s fallout over Donald Trump’s racist tweets against four Democratic congresswomen.
But if the official U.S. House Chaplain Rev. Pat Conroy is to be believed, this isn’t so much a question of the president’s white nationalism or the supposedly “un-American” nature of the four Democratic congresswomen he attacked.
Instead, this is a problem of demonic possession of the legislature, or as the Jesuit priest put it, “spirits of darkness.”
On Tuesday, the 68-year-old chaplain intervened during the House vote to condemn as racist Trump’s now-infamous tweets. In a prayer that was apparently inspired by Catholic exorcism rites and “traditional blessings for homes or other buildings,” Conroy prayed:
“This has been a difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people’s house.
In Your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from You … I want every member of the House to be able to say ‘amen,’”
House Chaplain Pat Conroy’s opening prayer: "This has been a difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people's house. In Your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from You." pic.twitter.com/DleRYUtLWV
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 18, 2019
The strange call for divine intervention came amid the raging battle that followed the president’s tweets telling the four congresswomen to “go back” to their supposedly “home” countries, despite three of them being born in the United States and the fourth, Ilhan Omar, being a naturalized citizen.
The raging partisan contention over the tweets has seen those on the political right support Trump and demand that their opponents abstain from characterizing the tweets as racist. Meanwhile, members of the political left have condemned the president for resorting to classical fascist tropes.
Conroy told CNN that he saw a clear theological aspect to the battle during Tuesday’s raucous vote when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fled the room angrily after Republican Rep. Doug Collins demanded she retract her description of the tweets as racism. Democratic Rep. Doug Collins, who presided over the vote, then dropped his gavel and abandoned the chair in a move without precedent. Only after two hours of bickering were the lawmakers able to get back to business.
The clergyman said:
“I was on the House floor on Tuesday … and to me, it felt different than other days. It felt like there was something going on beyond just political disagreement. The energy of the House was very off. No one was relishing what was happening.”
Conroy rarely mentions the infernal side of the religious coin, but for him, the dark side of the supernatural always stands in divine contrast to the heavenly. He added:
“If you are a person of faith … ultimately everything in our lives, our communities and our culture is a battle between darker spirits and our better angels.”
As to whether the chaplain is taking sides in the battle and sees “darker spirits” at work in Trump’s tweets or in the Democratic congresswomen’s responses, Conroy remains decidedly non-partisan. He said:
“You heard it, I wasn’t picking sides … That’s ultimately the goal every day. I want every member of the House to be able to say ‘amen.'”
One wonders if the chaplain is equally concerned by demonic spirits when the Democrats and Republicans agree to prioritize literal “fire-and-brimstone” over bread and butter, as was the case last Friday when the House approved the massive $733 billion war budget for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Perhaps God truly does work in mysterious ways.