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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  • PrimlyStable

    First they came for the South Carolinians with Truck Nutz, but I wasn't a South Carolinian with Truck Nutz, so I did nothing.

    Then they came for the people singing hymns and saying that maybe it would be nice if the government didn't shit on poor people from a great height any more than they do already, but I wasn't a person singing a hymn and saying that maybe it would be nice if the government didn't shit on poor people from a great height any more than they do already, so I did nothing.

    Then they came for Michelle Bachman, and I said "She's over there! Quick! Stop her! SHE'S GETTING AWAY!"

    • Jughead2130

      THAT was great. You have a gift my friend.

  • Fukui_sanYesOta

    “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.

    Chances are the police arrested them for their own safety before the Teabag Caucus had time to get their tricorns and crossbows.

  • So polite. And a Jew! A polite Jew!

    • finallyhappy

      I know Arthur Waskow-I wouldn't exactly call him polite(I also didn't realie he was 77).

      I was supposed to go to a protest on the Capitol steps today by Move-on but I went downtown and it was too hot so I went to lunch and went home. The entire debt crisis will be my fault because of hot flashes and global warming.

      • I don't know him so take my comment with some number of salt.

        It really is hot today but could you maybe put a little more effort in? The global economy hinges on your actions.

      • Doktor Zoom

        I went to a MoveOn protest at Rep. Mike Simpson's office in Boise on Tuesday. There were 6 other people there, and the office staff were all out to lunch except for the receptionist, who took notes on what each person had to say. The first woman to talk said she thought that Republicans were "committing treason against the American people" by putting corporate interests ahead of the poor & middle class, and by the time it was my turn I just said I hoped he'd support the Reid bill. I tried not to sigh too loudly. Gave serious thought to going back and saying I thought "treason" was a tad of an overstatement.

        • DaRooster

          To hear Thom Hartmann explain it… it is treason. But it is easier to be on board with it when you already know just what a bunch of fucking Dicks they are and how much they truly despise the actual people.

  • Tundra Grifter

    I don't think they should have been arrested for peacefully asembling in the peoples' house.

    Singing Kumbaya? That's a hanging offense.

    • GhostBuggy

      Indeed. Any number of fat lunatics with guns and Hoverrounds can assemble on the Mall and shout "BLACK NAZI!" and "THE PREZNIT IS A COLORED!" That's totally cool, sure, fine, whatever. But these people? Off to the hoosegow.

    • I was arrested with a group from a Catholic Worker house of hospitality when we trespassed onto an Army base on March 19, 2003 but we didn't sing Kumbaya even then.

      One can get sick of that song by the second hearing.

      • NorthStarSpanx

        Nothing disgusts conservatives more than Kumbaya. See Sarah Palin, she mocks that in every version of her hashtag speeches.

        • Tundra Grifter

          NSS: I may have to rethink my position, as I'm pretty much for anything Duh Guv'Nor is against.

          But why not sing one of the rousing labor songs from the '20's and 30's, like "Joe Hill" or "Which Side Are You On?"

          • NorthStarSpanx

            Hey, relevance here, Joe (Six-Pack) Versus the Volcano (Debt Ceiling)

            Sixteen Tons, used in the soundtrack, is a coal miner song, and more apropos.

          • PristineODummy

            Union Maid? La Marseillaise?

  • uncleglenny

    I bet the wheelchair didn't have trucknutz anyway.

  • Just over "half an hour" until the authorities got their interruptin' on? That's barely enough for a Kumbayah and a Michael Row-the-Boat-Ashore, if sung in rounds.

    Even Sergio Flores felt his public-nuisance saxophone solos deserved a religious kick-off though. I personally think the Presby-protestors could have amp'd their message with some shirtless ab's action and mellow brass accompaniment.

    • emmelemm

      My best friend LOVES the Careless Whisper guy. She just thinks that's the funniest thing ever.

      • I bet the exTREME mullet did it for her, didn't it?

        • emmelemm


    • ChessieNefercat

      All this Kumbaya-ing and now Michael-Row-the-Boat-Ashore?

      Boy am I flashing back to the late 60s and grade school and our (overall) nice nuns giving a tour of their new, modest, convent that replaced the falling down expensive to heat 100 year old one. We had a nice singalong (see above) in the new chapel with the pretty, modern, abstract stained glass windows. The dear sisters were quite happy and excited in a sedate sort of way.

      But I don't ever need to hear either sappy tune ever again.

      • oh, it's not too bad if you substitute some offbeat lyrics.. . "Michael sold-another-whore, alle-luu-ia" or "sister fell on a banana peel, allelu"..etc. An entire new paradigm could be cooked up using "Montezuma" instead of Alleluia..

  • Don't they understand government finance? Everyone knows God only heeds mass prayers led by Texas governors. That's how Dubya pulled off the economic miracle we saw on his watch. Only divine intervention could have made that much money disappear.

    Anyway it will all be fixed up by the invisible hand of religious lunatics on Hiroshima Day at Houston's Self Reliant Stadium.

    • ChessieNefercat

      "Only divine intervention could have made that much money disappear."

      Gosh, I would have thought it was more likely a pact with the devil, but I have been known to be wrong.

      • God and Satan along with Jesus are part of the same Deitycentipede like some sort of mythical Ouroboros, holy spirit is lunch!

  • Callyson

    Ah, but where was Bradley Dean Smith?
    JK…we all know he was conferring with Ms Lindsey Graham…

  • Goonemeritus

    Let’s see Bill O’Reilly claim there are no Christian terrorists now!

  • Texan_Bulldog

    All I can think of is, "Don't tase me, bro!"

  • SudsMcKenzie

    We'll take the Jews and the Irish, …. but not the Methodists.

  • gullywompr

    Flashmob for olds.

  • Radiotherapy®

    ♫♫ Kumbaya ma lord, kumbaya
    Don't tax the job creators, kumbaya ♫♫

    • ChessieNefercat

      ♪♫Kumbaya ma lord, kumbaya
      No more muslins, Lord, kumbaya♫♪

  • I have to admit that I know a lot about Christians because I read a bunch of stuff that they write on the internet. You see Presbyterians are a big fan of that Calvin guy and that Calvin guy says that your trip to Heaven has already been decided before you were even borned! The problem is that you don't know if you're goin' or not… it's God's secret. So you might as well act like a braying jackass while you're on Earth because it won't matter anyway. This issue is pretty cut and dried.

    • Guppy06

      So long as they're not screaming that tax hikes kill the unborn, I can live with that.

    • ShaveTheWhales

      Not to pick nits — well, yes, picking away — there are Presbyterians and Presbyterians. They're all descended from John (Hobbes) Calvin in terms of organization, but not all of them are all that completely sold on predestination.

      This shouldn't be that surprising, as it is well known that the rules of Calvinball change frequently and unpredictably.

      Reference: I was raised Presbyterian. I didn't have a clue about Calvinism until well after I had stopped thinking of myself as Presbyterian.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    It would have been real cool if they had broke out into a wild jam session, like that scene in Caveman where they invent music while sitting around the fire one night.

    Damn, now I'm gonna have to go bake and watch that movie again.

  • BarackMyWorld
  • SheriffRoscoe

    I don't care what Christians do in private just as long as they don't shove anything down my throat.

  • DustBowlBlues

    Hey–Of course there had to be some United Methodists in the mix. Those are my peeps. My side of the church is down with a lot of the stuff that J.C. said, but not his condemnation of the income tax and support of free enterprise. In fact, that isn't even in our Bible.

    Maybe it was confusing to passersby, but I'm proud of them. And Rev. Edgar, having been president of the National Council of Churches (the group that the 60 Minutes producer who did the slam job on them apologized to), he's more than use to being ridiculed by right wingers. Not to mention a lot of our good Xians who threatend to kill him. He's braver than I am. And older. Just sayin'.

    OT but Yay!!!!!!~~ No vote tonight. Oh ye of little faith, the prayers worked. Or maybe it was that shitty Kumbaya song they sang. WTF is wrong with "The Once Was A Union Maid," or "We Shall Not Be Moved" if they're going to turn it into a Hootenanny?

    Just not Kumbaya, We Shall Overcome or Amazing Grace. All three either suck or are overused or both.

  • Dudleydidwrong

    OK. The Presbyterians took a turn. Now, in order, come the Methodists, then the Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists (Southern), Baptists (Northern), Disciples of Christ, the Other Disciples of Christ, Assembly of God, Unitarian/Universalists, etc. That should be a good two weeks of assembly, singing Kumbayah, and getting thrown in the pokey. Maybe, just maybe, by that time congress will get its head out of its collective fucking ass and do something. I'm not optimistic…

    • unclejeems

      The Southern Baptists won't hold hands,sing and sway. It's too much like dancing. And besides, they'd be praying for the Republicans to hold out and bankrupt the government–that would really really confuse the Magic Man in the Sky. "Presbyterians yes, Baptists, no. Oy vey! Who knew?"

    • You forgot the People's Judean Front and the United Front of Judean People.

    • MinAgain

      If you want the Episcopalians to show up, you'll need to provide brie and a good red wine.

    • An_Outhouse

      and any Catholic Workers who are not currently in prison.

    • missemish

      Oh you don't want us Unitarian Universalists there. Talk about the liberal elite. We're rabble rousing troublemaker, it's really for the best if we just write some editorials.

  • DustBowlBlues

    OT again–On the Ed Show, Bernie Sanders stole my idea. He said that DC was basically hopeless and the real fight was in the states, like Wisconsin and Ohio. That's what I told the last person from the DNC who called and asked if I could double my contribution to make an even $4. I told the dear to give a message to the higher ups. When the Ds grow a spine, I'll go back to sending them my spare cash–the coins I find in the sofa. For now, I'm sending my money to We Are Wisconsin.

    BTW–Where is decency commander redacted or whatever the avid Wisconsin protestor call himself? I'd like an update.

    Sweet dreams. Enjoy the sweetness of Boner being humiliated by the Teabagglicans. When the Rs embraced those wingnuts, who on earth could have seen this coming? Whoa! Such a total surprise. Suck on it Boner and Dixie Jew, aka Eric the Whiner.

    • ShaveTheWhales

      When Boner got elected Speaker, I wonder if it ever occurred to him that it was his ticket to immortality as the biggest laughingstock in American political history.

      Couldn't (hardly*) happen to a nicer guy.

      *Actually, there are several better candidates, but Agent Orange will do.

  • The cops should have arrested the other group of people doing pointless theater in the Capitol tonight.

    • NorthStarSpanx

      I love you and your blonde wig.

  • ttommyunger

    Prolly the first time ever that a Presbyterian got arrested for something other than a sex offense. They are a peaceful lot…horny, but peaceful.

  • Clearly these people were PCUSA. The PCA Presbyterians would be demanding that all congresspersons be male and the women folk in Washington restrict themselves to babysitting, laundry and baking cookies.

    • ShaveTheWhales

      For a small number of us, this is indeed obvious.

    • I had a PCA girlfriend in college. Besides being into saddlebacking, she would get all upset every time we passed a PCUSA church or sign, talking shit about them as heretical, etc. Good ties, man, good times. (Not.)

  • user-of-owls

    So you know what would have been cool? If the coppers had shown deference to youngster Anglican protesters whilst puttin' the zap to the other kiddie sects-offenders. Why cool?

    They tase children, but not the British children;
    They tase children, but not the British children

  • savethispatient

    I really don't know what's more futile: praying for the Government to act, or praying for rain in Oklahoma.

  • Doktor Zoom

    Oh, hey, since I haven't seen it here, I suppose I should pass along The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling

    (Crossposted to the other discussion of the Debt Ceiling, because It's That Good)

  • The cops gave Arthur Waskow a wheelchair and then took it back? That's cold.

  • Beowoof

    So they got arrested for bringing too much Jeebus to the Born Again "Christians" in Congress? Would that be irony?

  • pinkocommi

    "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.”

    "Cannot" unfortunately is not the right word.

  • arihaya

    no snark but,, what is the law for public demonstration in DC anyway ?

    why is it so many arrest just for demonstration? like the last time DC councilmen were also arrested for demonstrating

  • randcoolcatdaddy

    They'd be better of just jumping on Twitter and complaining about The Poors like Rick Warren – they'd get more attention that way.

  • NorthStarSpanx

    Oy, that's how bad the economy and so sorry the state of health care is now that an elderly Rabbi is not given a wheel chair to take home?

    Oh yeah, no free rides for anyone. Where's your boot-straps Waskow?

  • NorthStarSpanx

    Nothing disgusts conservatives more than Kumbaya. Ask Sarah Palin.

  • MinAgain

    They got half an hour before they were arrested, because it took Capitol Hill security that long to figure out if they were the "right" kind of Christians. Turns out they were the kind that have actually read the Gospels, so off to jail they went.

    Bitter? Oh, a tad.

    • An_Outhouse

      plus they were old.

  • horsedreamer_1

    It's a Hard Knox Life for Me…

  • An_Outhouse

    Hey capitol police, I have a massive chamber you can close in on right here.

  • mavenmaven

    Arthur Waskow has real creds from the civil rights and vietnam days. If he wants to sing kumbaya, I'd sing with him.

  • Swampgas_Man

    Fergit Kumbaya; shoulda been perfoming The Rite of Exorcism.

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