Facebook posts a claim that President Barack Obama enforced an Islamic opening prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The facts: Officials from all religions lead House opening prayers.
In fact, six Islamic religious leaders have done the opening prayers since 2000 — including three during the Bush administration, said David Emery, urban legends researcher for the information website About.com and Snopes.com.
The post originated from a video uploaded to the right-wing “Supreme Patriot” Facebook page.
The video was taken from a C-SPAN feed of a House session televised on Nov. 13, 2014, that shows Imam Hamad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in South Brunswick, N.J., delivering a prayer on the House floor.
Chebli’s prayer begins: “Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you. Assalaamu’alaykum. In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, the cherisher, the sustainer of the worlds, the most gracious, the most merciful master of the day of judgment. Thee do we worship and Thine aid we seek. Guide us to the straight path. ...”
Emery writes that the same video of the same opening prayer was posted in 2014 on LiveLeak.com, accompanied by this description of events: “An abomination of sacrilegious proportions was witnessed Friday when the National Cathedral allowed Muslims to hold an Islamic prayer service within its dwelling.
“Islam has overstepped its boundaries in a Christian nation of 73 percenters, and it’s getting progressively worse. Openly infiltrating our houses of government with blasphemous declarations to a false god, the particular people bowing their heads in reverence will disturb and anger you.
“With the re-election of Speaker of the House John Boehner and fellow Republicans gaining majority in Senate comes an outrageous display of submission to Islam.”
Chebli’s prayer was neither instigated nor “enforced” by Obama. It came under the auspices of the Guest Chaplain program, which provides for the inclusion of opening prayers by religious leaders of various faiths sponsored by House members. Seven imams have delivered Islamic opening prayers since April 2000.
All the religious leaders offering opening prayers are listed, along with transcripts of their messages, on the House of Representatives website at chaplain.house.gov/chaplaincy/guest_chaplains.html.