April 26, 2008

We don’t need no stinking National Day of Prayer

Guest Post by Morbo

The National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 1. I oppose it. I believe religious leaders should call people to prayer, not government officials. I believe religious services should take place in houses of worship, not government buildings.

Alas, the federal courts do not agree with me. Thus, we have a National Day of Prayer. Of course it has been taken over by obnoxious fundamentalist Christians who sponsor exclusionary programs that promote their narrow brand of Christianity.

If we have to have a day like this, it ought to be interfaith. But the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private group run by Religious Right honcho James Dobson’s wife, Shirley, tells its volunteers not to let anyone near the microphone who has not signed off on a fundamentalist statement of faith.

That statement reads in part:

“I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God. I believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, the atoning work of his shed blood, his resurrection and ascension, his intercession and his coming return to power and glory.”

Jews and other non-Christians can attend the event. They just get to stand there and be window dressing for the Jesus-athon.

Thankfully, some people have had it with the fundamentalist takeover and are fighting back.

Jews on First, an online group of activists who love the separation of church and state, is urging an “Inclusive National Day of Prayer” that is welcoming to everyone.

Says the Jews on First website:

“The organizations participating in the Inclusive Day of Prayer campaign are asking their states’ governors to refrain from issuing proclamations to the Focus-linked Task Force because it excludes clergy and leaders representing Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and even moderate evangelical Christians from its observances.”

Jews on First has set up a special website to promote the idea. And when they say inclusive, they really mean inclusive. They note that an event took place in Oklahoma City in 2004 that was dubbed “Oklahoma’s Interfaith Day of Prayer and Reflection.” It included representatives from non-theistic organizations.

I’d much prefer we didn’t have to go through this at all, so I’ll leave the last word to Thomas Jefferson, who, as president, refused to issue official proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting.

In a letter to the Rev. Samuel Miller dated Jan. 23, 1808, Jefferson explained his views: “I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of affecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.”

Good stuff, that.


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On April 26th, 2008 at 9:14 am, Rolandc said:

….every year for the last 2 millenniums -at least 6-7 times a year for a total of 12,000-14,000 times- they have been telling us of the return of their leader and finally even poor lil’ me is starting to believe that this time the fucker is showing up for sure …. so let us get ready and make sure we crucify the fucker properly this time around and also please keep the body … just for insurance …. that should shut up a few religiously delusional assholes …

On April 26th, 2008 at 9:28 am, buck said:

Morbo, I disagree. Having just one National Day of Prayer must mean that the other 364 (or 365) are Days of Rational Thought. It’s not that we need an official proclamation to this effect or that few people actually engage in rational thought on a daily basis. But the fact that these idiots feel a need to draw attention to themselves highlights the fact that there was one Karl Marx one-liner that had little to do with political economy, but really hit the spot.

On April 26th, 2008 at 9:31 am, Ronin said:

Those that believe in a make believe person with extraordinary powers, often have difficulty convincing the educated and rational. So they ask for help from an authority figure (the government) to add credence to their believe… sad when you think of it. Much like someone losing an argument and resorts to “because, I said so”.

On April 26th, 2008 at 9:38 am, TR said:

Blame the commies, Morbo.

The National Day of Prayer — like the addition of “under God” to the pledge, the adoption of “In God We Trust” as the official motto, and the start of the presidential prayer breakfast — was a creation of Cold War paranoia, a way for Americans to distinguish themselves from the godless communists.

The Berlin Wall’s been down for 20 years, but our own religious defenses are still up and running. Go figure.

On April 26th, 2008 at 9:47 am, DK said:

Only fundies need apply at the gates of heaven? Hmmm, that sounds pretty elitist to me.

On April 26th, 2008 at 9:52 am, locanicole said:


On April 26th, 2008 at 10:03 am, mellowjohn said:

i guess invitations to pastafarians are in the mail.

On April 26th, 2008 at 10:13 am, Steve said:

Thursday, May 01, 2008—a date that shall live in infamy in the minds of the Tali-Vangees, as a group of “anti-fundie” homeschoolers who do not cater to the whims of theocratically-justified evil occupy the south lawn of Chardon Square (roughly 100 yards south of the bandstand, where the “pray-a-thon” is scheduled to take place) with a stereo and a collection of CDs. On the menu that day will be Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix, ZZTop, and Queen.

On April 26th, 2008 at 10:28 am, Evergreen said:

When prayer of any sort is institutionalized and becomes a fixed thing, it is no longer worthy of the name prayer.

Prayer, as I understand it, is a private thing between an individual and their god(s), or inner self, whichever way one cares to view it.

On April 26th, 2008 at 11:00 am, Hannah said:

For people of faith, every day should be a day of prayer. Nationalizing prayer is silly. Unless it’s praying for a quick end to the current administration.

Cleo, liberal Christian

On April 26th, 2008 at 11:11 am, Ten Bears said:

Animals, bow down to gods; Human Beings, do not.

On April 26th, 2008 at 11:32 am, jhm said:

It’s funny how “the Holy Bible” is claimed to be ” the inerrant Word of The Living God,” when there are multiple translations, derived from multiple and discrepant source texts (leaving aside the parts that most adherents do agree on are self contradictory).

On April 26th, 2008 at 11:35 am, Badass4Peace said:

With all the distractions and wasted time and energy that are the result of religion, how can anyone argue that we are better off with it than without it?

On April 26th, 2008 at 12:54 pm, Dale said:

8.On April 26th, 2008 at 10:13 am, Steve said:
Thursday, May 01, 2008—a date that shall live in infamy in the minds of the Tali-Vangees, as a group of “anti-fundie” homeschoolers

Hey Steve going any website for these guys? Sounds fun.

7. mellowjohn said:
i guess invitations to pastafarians are in the mail.

Let’s hope so! I appreciate every chance I get to dance the Six Armed Squiggly Dance of Cosmic Joy in honor of FSM (blessed be its name)

On April 26th, 2008 at 1:59 pm, BuzzMon said:

Dale - I hope that you are in your pirate garb, comsidering that you are speaking of his noodley eminence.

And I have to disagree with Buck @#2, 1 day of prayer & 364 days of ratioal thought? I prefer the 1 day of prayer & 364 days of hedonism & debauchery. I guess to each his own…

On April 26th, 2008 at 6:50 pm, Redshift said:

May 1, hmph! Clearly, they’re trying to steal May Day from the pagans, just like they scheduled Christmas to steal Saturnalia and Solstice. Well, it won’t work! Pagan First of May religious activities are much more fun!

On April 27th, 2008 at 1:23 am, KTinOhio said:

If the Founding Fathers had wanted to say anything about Christianity in the Constitution, they could have done so. They didn’t. The Constitution says as much about Christianity as it does about Shintoism.

On May 1st, 2008 at 8:30 am, Brett said:

I agree there shouldn’t be such proclamations, but have you read the National Day of Prayer proclamations issued by governors (copies are posted on the NDP Task Force site).
So many are so bland and generic they couldn’t possibly offend unless you wanted them to be pro-Christian ( http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/religion ).
And a handful go to lengths to be inclusive of all religions and merely recognize a truth - many Americans find comfort in praying to a higher being.