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FILE — The Rev. Patrick Conroy, then the House chaplain, is pictured on a video monitor during the opening prayer as the 115th Congress convened at the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) fired Conroy, apparently over a prayer. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

Paul Ryan should know better than most that politics and religion don't mix.

But, of course, we all know that our politicians are increasingly happy to use religion as a wedge or a crutch or a club whenever they choose.

In its higher form, Congress uses religion every day when the chambers open with a prayer. That's somewhat fitting since our elected officials need all the help and heavenly guidance they can get.

But consider the strange case of House Speaker Ryan firing the House chaplain. Apparently over a prayer.

Earlier this month, Ryan fired the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, a Catholic priest. Now, some lawmakers are asking why, and they're not getting a clear answer.

Ryan sent a note to lawmakers nearly two weeks ago announcing Conroy was leaving, according to the Washington Post. The note left the impression among lawmakers that Conroy was leaving voluntarily. But when Conroy read his resignation on the House floor last week, he made it clear that he was leaving at the request of Ryan. In the ensuing dust up, Ryan told House Republicans behind closed doors that there was no "malfeasance" on Conroy's part.

So why?

Conroy told The New York Times that he himself is not sure why, but it may be over a prayer offered when the House was debating the tax bill.

He prayed: "May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans."

After that, Conroy told the Times: "A staffer came down and said, 'We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political'."

Who knew praying for fairness was political?

Conroy also told the Times that Ryan told him in passing: "Padre, you just got to stay out of politics."

Yeah, Padre: Just say,"Thanks, Heavenly Big Guy." And leave the politics to the politicians, developers and lobbyists.

Naturally, the firing has turned partisan. The Huffington Post reports that a top Democratic congressman on Friday unsuccessfully tried to create a special committee to investigate why Ryan fired the House chaplain. The proposal would have created a six-member committee — three Republicans and three Democrats — to look at what happened.

But the House voted to reject the proposal, 215 to 171. A GOP aide with a sense of the Republican conference told the HuffPost that the resolution would have passed if it didn't include the partisan language Democrats put in it. The resolution twice refers to the Republican tax plan as the "GOP tax scam."

No wonder the chaplain prayed for fairness.

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