Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obama and the National Day of Prayer

Sadly, this is a sort of follow-up to my blog from Monday.  This morning I received an email from a neighbor decrying the fact that President Obama has said that America is no longer a Christian nation, that he has cancelled the National Day of Prayer but spent "all day" praying at the National Muslim Day of Prayer, and that if he wins "it's all over but the crying."

Of course just a simple Google search (and proved all of his points wrong, and here was my response:
  1. President Obama did not cancel the national day of prayer.  He has not recognized it the way George W. Bush did, but there is nothing in the original bill authorizing that it had anything to do with the president or a White House celebration.   
  2. Outside of the last President, there is no tradition for a White House event.  Clinton held no events in his 8 years. George H.W. Bush held 1 event in 4 years (it was a breakfast, which is not really "prayerful").  Reagan held 1 event in 8 years.   "Not holding an event does not mean it is cancelled anymore than a president not attending fireworks on the 4th would mean he had cancelled the 4th of July."
  3. President Obama has recognized the National Day of Prayer every year.  Here is his proclamation for this year
  4. In 2010 a federal judge ruled that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, and it was President Obama's administration that worked to appeal that decision and it was overturned by the appeals court. 
  5. There is not and never has been a "National Day of Muslim Prayer."  There was a prayer event for Muslims held in Washington, DC, in September 2009, but it was a private event. President Obama did not spend time praying at that event because, in fact, he wasn't even in Washington, DC.  He was attending the G-20 summit, and thus did not even attend let alone pray there. 
  6. The quote about Obama saying we are not a Christian nation was taking out of context, what he said was we are not "solely" a Christian nation. (And it should be noted that the National Day of Prayer is not specifically Christian, but also "allows" for prayers by Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, and others who choose to participate.) 
  7. I have prayed in a mosque.  I have prayed in a Jewish temple.  I have prayed in a Unitarian Universalist church.  I have prayed in Catholic church.  And I have prayed in many different protestant churches, and I am also blessed to say that many of them have come and prayed in my church as well.  
  8. Finally, I do not need congress or the president to tell me to pray.  Indeed I would argue that the fact we even think that is necessary might indicate our problem.  You will either pray or not and the government saying you should, shouldn't, and won't, make a difference. 
I am always curious about conservatives who argue that government should be controlled and contained, that they shouldn't provide healthcare, they shouldn't provide food or housing (you know for those 47% of us who are lazy), they shouldn't be advocating things like healthy eating, but on the flip side argue that the government should be forcing things like prayer.  How does that make any sense?  (And yes I know the democrats are just as hypocritical)

But here is how I concluded my response:
I pray every day for God's blessings.  I ask for forgiveness.  I try and give forgiveness.  I pray for my enemies.  I thank God for my blessings. I ask for God's guidance, grace, mercy and love.  And then I am quiet so I have time to listen to God.  And I do that regardless of one day being set aside for national prayer or not, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

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