“Rubbergate” (as this year’s congressional bad-check scandal has been called), charges of drug dealing in the House post office, and the subsequent Capitol Hill perk wars have highlighted the temptations political figures face. Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson has observed those pressures first-hand. He talked with CT about how some elected officials fight temptation by keeping their faith vital.

I once heard former senator John Stennis of Mississippi address a group of junior senators the day before they were to be sworn in. “Young men,” he said (it happened there were only men in this group), “some men come here and grow; others just swell.”

The senator identified a key issue for elected officials. Some people here talk about “Potomac Fever,” which refers to the heady, contagious sense of power that tempts those who come to Washington. It’s not difficult to imagine how that can spoil a person if he or she is not very careful, and protected by the Lord. How do those who come to Washington keep their spiritual edge? How do they avoid “swelling,” and ensure that they grow spiritually?

I have observed senators do so in several ways. Many, of course, attend church. A number of churches have tended over the years to draw a significant number of senators: Columbia Baptist, McLean Presbyterian, McLean Bible, New York Avenue Presbyterian, National Presbyterian, Fourth Presbyterian, National Christian, National Baptist, Saint John’s Episcopal, National Cathedral, and Foundry Methodist.

And there are a number of resources on or near Capitol Hill: Every Wednesday morning there is a Senate prayer breakfast, which involves about a third of the senators. And there’s a little group that gathers on Tuesday afternoons for inductive Bible study. ...

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