The National Day of Prayer, started by President Truman, was IMO a bad idea then because it suggested that the government and the president himself needed Divine intervention if this country was to survive. That’s a pretty sad statement for a president to make — a leader of a nation needs to have both feet on the ground, not one here and one in some paradise inhabited by Gods and angels and needs to present himself as if HE is in charge.
But despite what I think, the idea of a National Day of Prayer stood and it still stands. The impression that our country is slowly developing into a theocracy of sorts was even stronger during the President G.W. Bush era. Bush let it be known loudly and clearly that he consulted God before making the tough decisions (I wonder if that was before or after he consulted his trusted advisors), and he turned the National Day of Prayer into a political circus by turning the seat of our government into a place of worship on that Day. It all made many Americans wonder and worry about how far we were going with this commingling of religion and government.
President Obama has made the first move to move to put some separation between politics and religion and I applaud him for that. President Obama commemorated the National Day of Prayer by issuing the expected (almost mandatory) proclamation but the President Bush style public circus to mark the day has been cancelled. Needless to say many, many religious conservatives are, to put it mildly, miffed!
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is protesting loudly. Their stated mission is: “mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership.” If that means that their job is to pray for our country and its leaders, there is no reason for them to be upset; they can spend the entire 24-hour day praying and even the next few days after that. It is far more likely, however, that they mean that their job is to “influence” the actions of American leadership, if that’s the case it makes the National Day of Prayer Task Force more dangerous to our Constitution than the Taliban.
The mostly right-wing religious talk show world had another arrow in their quiver when Obama sent the circus out of town. The apparent leader of their cause, Rush Limbaugh, was being snide and puffy as usual: he suggested that the president is “asserting his authoritarian control” and followed that with one of the nasty jibes that listeners to talk radio are used to: “They say he prays privately, I have no doubt. Who does he pray to? Does he pray to himself?”
Personally, I have nothing against prayer, for those who Believe, as a personal communication with their God but personal communication should be just that — personal. Public prayer (out side of the home or church) is, as it always has been, just a show put on by those who are so insecure in their beliefs that they feel a need to stand up and say “Look at me! Look how Holy I am!” If you Believe, there is no need to stand on a streetcorner or at a lectern and shout your prayers to God; no need to beseech God from the halls of Congress — if you REALLY believe in Him, you know in your heart that He is already there!
Guardian.co.uk: Obama’s understated National Day of Prayer
FortWayne News-Sentinel: Prayer as a civic act isn’t deluded – but it is diluted
Pointer’s Weekly: A lot of lies about the National Day of Prayer
Deo Vindice: National Day of Prayer and Liberal gods
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