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Despite gridlock in Congress, Senate chaplain says senators come together for Bible study

Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett on "The Takeout" podcast that despite the government shutdown and current political gridlock, senators join together every week for a bipartisan prayer breakfast.

"At end they join hands -- literally join hands in this marvelous kumbaya moment and they actually pray every week," Black said about the 25 to 30 senators who gather each week for the prayer breakfast. Black teaches Bible study each week as well.

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The chaplain joked that while senators may be expected to engage in "Thrilla-in-Manila"-style antagonism, off the Senate floor they are able to pray and study together. The "spiritual fitness" of the lawmakers in the Senate is strong, said Black, who is in his sixteenth year as Senate chaplain.

Black also discussed how he offers prayer in a non-partisan way, not endorsing either party's position. He said that he didn't offer his political opinions on issues, but used his prayers as a way to talk to the lawmakers and to a higher power.

"I am talking to God. And I am articulating not only the needs of senators but needs of nation and the world," Black said.

Black serves as chaplain to members of the Senate, their families and members of their staff. Though he is privy to confidential information about the senators, Black said he conducts a "leak-free ministry."

For more of Major's conversation with Barry Black, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko, Jamie Benson and Sara Cook

CBSN Production: Alex Zuckerman, Eric Soussanin and Grace Segers

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