The Rev. Cecil T. Washington cautioned state senators this week in a prayer from the chamber floor not to abuse their power like he used to do as a chaplain for Topeka police.
Washington, who delivers invocation shortly after the Senate gavels in each day, wanted lawmakers to understand the Lord will hold them to a higher standard as leaders in society.
"I'm reminded when, as a chaplain for the police department, I utilized my badge to get out of a traffic ticket," Washington said during Monday's prayer. "And when your conviction was heavy upon me, I repented."
In an interview on Tuesday, Washington reflected on his experience as a TPD chaplain "quite a few years ago." Police spokeswoman Gretchen Koenen said the department wasn't aware of his behavior and that records indicate he hasn't been a chaplain since the 1990s.
Washington said he was a chaplain for about four years, bearing the responsibility of telling loved ones a family member had died. Sometimes he offered counsel to officers. He carried a badge to identify himself.
One time, on a trip to Oklahoma City, Washington said, he was stopped for speeding by the trooper who had captured domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh.
"We got to talking," Washington said. "He let me off, but we talked for quite a while about his experience and all. Very interesting meeting. I enjoyed visiting with him. But I saw where the badge was giving me privileges that I really didn't deserve. The Lord began to convict me."
After using his badge to avoid a ticket on more than one occasion, Washington said, God rebuked him through a Topeka police officer. You shouldn't be doing this, the officer said.
"Here I am," Washington thought, "supposed to be telling people to do the right thing."
The way Washington sees the world, there are four pillars of human authority: family, government, economic structure and the church. Scripture makes it clear that all authority comes from God, he said.
He quit his position as a police chaplain so he wouldn't be tempted to abuse his authority. In return, God began to bless him with a greater power — the power of influence.
Washington served as a chaplain in the House for four years and has been the Senate chaplain for the past five.
His advice to lawmakers: Trust in the Lord, and he will direct our paths.
"I've had many problems because I've chosen to follow the Lord," Washington said. "But in following the Lord, I found out that he's had my back, and he has said that he'll make even your enemies be at peace with you. I've seen it over and over again."