Matters of religion and politics usually aren't a healthy mix at the statehouse.
But state Rep. Arlen Siegfreid's proposal for adding an all-faiths chapel at the Capitol left even some civil libertarians speechless Wednesday.
Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, pitched his idea to a House committee while carefully walking the line separating church and state -- so much so that even the American Civil Liberties Union declined to testify.
"This is very important to me," said Siegfreid, a Christian who holds weekly prayer meetings at a state office building across from the Capitol. "I am a man of faith and I just feel strongly that faith has a place at this Capitol, and I think it's appropriate to reflect that through a room."
Siegfreid said the room would be paid for with private funds that he would help raise along with the governor. The cost of the room is unknown since it's not clear how it might be equipped or furnished.
Siegfreid's proposal is included in a bill that the committee will consider for action today. No one opposed the measure, though some praised Siegfreid for doing his legal homework on the issue.
If the chapel is built, Kansas would be the seventh state to have one in the Capitol. Other statehouses with chapels are in Florida, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, according to legislative research.
The room might go on the Capitol's second floor, where the governor's office is located. Or it could go in a new visitors center that's part of the ongoing Capitol renovations.
In scrutinizing the bill's wording, Democratic Rep. Judy Loganbill of Wichita noted the many possible uses of the room.
"Somebody might go in for prayer, somebody might go in to meditate, somebody might just go in to escape the press," she said to much laughter.