This third installment in the three-part series on religious pluralism and the hagio-historical revisionism that seeks to eclipse it from view covers the record of the first prayer ever before a U.S. congressional body, at the Continental Congress in 1774. The complex story behind this prayer is one of religious diversity, divisive religion intertwined with equally divisive politics, and the uses of religion to further political aims. Yet all of this complexity was quickly lost to the record in a rush to solemnize the event in pious historical memory as a simple occasion of American unity under Christian prayer. The piece concludes with general observations on the original premise: that religious diversity and pluralism have always characterized the American experience, and we must contend with an entrenched religious and political majority to ensure that that history, and the present-day reality it has led up to, remain vital and constantly in the public eye. For the exciting conclusion, click here.

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