Today’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac, in honor of the 211th anniversary of Congress meeting in the Capitol building, notes:
In its early days, the Capitol moonlighted as a church on the weekends; beginning with the Jefferson administration in 1801, church services were held every Sunday in the House of Representatives. Jefferson did not feel that this violated separation of church and state, because attendance was voluntary and the services were nondiscriminatory — at least as long as you were Protestant, since all (and only) Protestant denominations were represented. Jefferson and his successor, James Madison, attended the services themselves. Worship services were expanded to include Catholic mass in 1826, and church meetings in the House continued until after the Civil War.
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