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There will be tear gas and a Twitter revolution any moment now, because even the boring old Presbyterians are going to go to prison for praying that this whole debt ceiling disaster go away very soon. This is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to Presbyterians since John Calvin wrote the Institutes during a fever dream, so congratulations to them. There were also some Jews and Methodists thrown into the mix for this strange sing-along in the Rotunda that ended with some calm arrests and a display of mild restraint in dealing with the elderly.

The group, organized by Common Cause’s president, the Rev. Bob Edgar, occupied the center of the historic Rotunda for more than a half hour Thursday, praying and singing until police closed the massive chamber and arrested the group, one by one.

Before officers closed the Rotunda, many visitors sang along, clapped, and filmed the prayers, although it was not clear that passersby understood what the group was protesting.

Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle said they were trying to make a simple point.

“They were trying to send the message to Congress that the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the poor, the middle class, or the neediest in society,” Boyle said.

One protester who was not arrested, police said, was Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia.

Police gave Waskow, 77, a wheelchair while he waited with his colleagues for them to be cuffed with plastic bindings. They took the chair back after the last protester was arrested. It appeared as if the elderly leader hoped to keep it to leave, but police said he did not complain.


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