Senate Chaplain Prays For OJ (August 1994)

The Reverend Richard C. Halverson, official U.S. Senate Chaplain, offered a prayer on the Senate floor on June 23, 1994, for defendant O.J. Simpson, facing murder charges in the brutal slayings of his former wife and her friend.

At taxpayers’ expense, the well-heeled chaplain referred to the former football star as “a great hero” deserving of “a special dispensation of grace,” and mourned “his profound loss.” The victims and their families were mentioned by afterthought. Halverson never mentioned by name Nicole Brown Simpson, the woman Simpson battered and is accused of stabbing to death, or her friend Ronald Goldman. Nicole’s motherless children were not specifically referred to. Halverson intoned:

“How are the mighty fallen–II. Samuel 1:25.

“Eternal God, as David joined the nation, Israel, in mourning the fall of King Saul, so our Nation has been traumatized by the fall of a great hero. We pray for O.J. Simpson. Whether he is innocent or guilty rests with our system of justice. But our hearts go out to him in his profound loss. Whatever the circumstances, he has got to be hurting deeply. As the wheels of justice slowly grind, may he be comforted by the sense of the presence of the God who loves him.

“Give consolation, gracious Lord, to the unnumbered who have been disillusioned by the fall of their idol. We realize that leaders have much farther to fall than followers, and we ask for a special dispensation of grace for this American hero, his loved ones and all who are hurting irreparably by this event.

“We ask, too, for Your comfort and consolation to the victims and their families and all those those who loved them.

“We pray in the name of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Amen.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Susan Paynter reported in her newspaper’s June 29 issue that Halverson joins the Rev. Billy Graham in personally praying for Simpson.

Paynter called Halverson’s action: “Another layer in a mantle of supportive fellowship being draped around Simpson’s shoulders mainly by august members of the male fraternity in its various Panhellenic chapters . .

“The prayer from the Senate floor seemed the last straw,” wrote Paynter. “What’s next? A Friars Club roast?”

Paynter reports that U.S. Senator Patty Murray responded by delivering a speech from the Senate floor on the need for tougher laws and better protection for women reporting domestic abuse.

The Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, contacted the offices of the two Wisconsin U.S. Senators to once again complain about the unconstitutional Congressional chaplaincies.

Nothing fails like prayer. And sometimes, nothing can be more offensive.

Freedom From Religion Foundation