Who knew prayer could be so offensive to so many? 

That’s exactly the reaction Pastor Jack Hibbs received from several members of Congress after he offered a prayer to open their session several weeks ago. 

Hibbs is pastor of mega church Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, California. House Speaker Mike Johnson invited him to deliver the invocation on Jan. 30, as one of the many guest chaplains who are asked to render a blessing to begin lawmakers’ assemblage.  

In his prayer, Hibbs called for “humility and repentance of national sins in a time of great need.”

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But in a letter addressed to Speaker Johnson, 26 Democrats accused Hibbs afterward of being “an ill-qualified hate preacher” who was pushing a “Christian nationalist agenda,” according to a Roll Call account in mid-February.  

Fox News reached out to the Speaker’s Office for comment.

During a recent episode of “Lighthouse Faith” podcast, Pastor Hibbs reacted to the Democrats’ accusations, saying, “You know, I was honored to pray. And what a lot of people don’t realize is that … two thirds of my prayer was simply lifted, in part, from ancient prayers, so to speak, from 1774.”

Hibbs was referring to the First Prayer of the Continental Congress given by the Rev. Jacob Duche, rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, on Sept. 7, 1774.

It begins this way: “O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee.”

Reps. Jared Huffman of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin were the top organizers and signers of the two-page letter, according to Rep. Huffman’s website. 

The letter stated in the opening graph that “Pastor Hibbs is a radical Christian nationalist who helped fuel the January 6th insurrection.”

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In a statement to Fox News, Hibbs said, “I’m quite impressed, as I didn’t know I had such power. This is just part of their way of labeling and is void of fact.” 

He also said that “when these progressives speak about ‘radical Christian nationalists,’ they’re using verbiage reminiscent of the rise of the Third Reich under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Hitler, as well as communists, Marxists and socialists, are known to label and vilify those who disagree with their ideologies.”

Author of the recent book, “Daze of Deception: How to Discern Truth from Culture’s Lies,” Hibbs makes no excuses for being a Christian with orthodox — some would say extremely conservative — beliefs. 

Theologian, author and speaker Dr. Alex McFarland, based in North Carolina, said that Christian nationalism is a phrase that the left more or less coined to strike fear in the hearts of liberals to equate it almost as terrorism. 

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Yet McFarland said, “I love God. I love my country. If that makes me a Christian nationalist … I’m proud to be one.”

Hibbs agreed, saying, “The fact is that a Christian nationalist is a Christian who happens to live in a nation … Jeremiah 29:7 says that you should ‘seek the welfare of the city in which I have planted you for the betterment of all.’”

Yet the letter to Speaker Johnson wasn’t just about what Hibbs prayed before Congress.

The letter blasts Hibbs himself and what he preaches and stands for, saying that the pastor “has a long record of spewing hateful vitriol toward non-Christians, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. He should never have been granted the right to deliver the House’s opening prayer on Jan. 30, 2024.”

Hibbs is also under fire from the atheist group Freedom From Religion.

It’s calling on the Internal Revenue Service to remove the tax-exempt status of his church after Hibbs endorsed Republican Senate candidate Steve Garvey from the pulpit. 

Hibbs has since apologized for violating laws barring churches from supporting political candidates.

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But Hibbs’ prayer could be yet another example of a clash of orthodoxies in political circles. Roll Call reported that Huffman calls himself a “nonreligious humanist.” 

He, along with Raskin, founded the Congressional Freethought Caucus. 

Its stated mission is to “promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science and moral values.” That could be the conflict in a nutshell.  

The majority of theologians agree that there is no such thing as a “non-religious” person, that there is no neutral position when it comes to religion; we all have a stake in what may be the grand spiritual narrative of creation. 

Morality, deciding what is good or bad, is implicitly founded in religious values, not science.

As Oxford University mathematician and Christian apologist Dr. John Lennox said in a debate with atheist Richard Dawkins, “Science can tell you what will happen when you put arsenic in your Aunt Tilley’s tea, but it cannot tell whether or not you should.”

Theologian Dr. Timothy Keller, in a sermon on exclusivity, said that “religion in the larger sense is a set of answers to the big questions of life.”

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He noted, “Why are we here? What is right and wrong for human beings to be doing? What’s wrong with the human race, and how can we fix it? How do we decide right and wrong? What should we be spending our time doing?”

He also said, “Nobody can operate in life without a set of answers to those questions. And those answers are at least implicitly religious.”

Politics today, it seems, has become more of a spiritual battleground than a platform for public servants diplomatically deciding what’s best for the nation.

Hibbs’ conflict with a group of Democrats is just one of the battles in a war of ideals that continues to grow and fester.

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