Prayer Police Attack National Prayer Day

There is an ancient Scottish nursery rhyme that reads:  “From Ghoulies and Ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us.”  More dangerous to modern-day anti-prayer zealots than even the “ghoulies and beasties and things that go bump in the night” from which divine protection is needed, is prayer itself; or at least, voluntary prayer offered by public officials.  The latest target for the prayer police?  The National Day of Prayer, scheduled to be celebrated in Washington, DC and in communities across the country on May 6th.

Why are the these First Amendment zealots so hot under the clerical collar about National Prayer Day – something which has gone off without a hitch every year since first declared by President Harry Truman 58 years ago?  It’s hard to say, since the event is the antithesis of controversy; bringing together men and women from across the political spectrum, representing many nationalities and diverse religious faiths, for a common, and, of course, voluntary, celebration of prayer.  Notwithstanding its benign nature, this day of religious infamy now sits in the crosshairs of groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State. 

Admittedly, National Prayer Day does have a connection to the federal government.  The annual presidential proclamations are issued pursuant to a law signed by President Truman in 1952.  And therein lies its mortal sin, in the eyes of church-state purists. 

Long before 1952, however, prayer figured explicitly and sometimes prominently in matters involving our federal government.  When the very first Congress assembled in 1789, it was opened with a – gasp! – prayer.  In fact, every day of every Congress since then, has begun with a prayer delivered by a priest, pastor, rabbi, or other religious leader invited by a member of Congress to do so.  It is widely considered an honor to be so invited.

Yet, those seeking a “Chinese Wall” between any activity that is remotely religious and anything that is remotely connected to the government, are constantly casting about for new, otherwise innocuous religion-tinged events against which to file lawsuits.  The fact that President Barack Obama, like every president before him back to Truman, has denoted one day each year as a “National Day of Prayer,” apparently was just too much for the prayer police to stomach.

Thus has continued a lawsuit initially filed during the administration of Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, demanding to have National Prayer Day declared unconstitutional.  Not surprisingly, the religion separatists were able to find a federal judge – this one in Madison, Wisconsin – to agree with their myopic view of the First Amendment.  Judge Barbara Crabb did just that in a ruling earlier this month.  Graciously, the judge permitted this year’s National Prayer Breakfast in the nation’s capital (and ironically in the shadow of the National Cathedral) to go on as scheduled.

Reflecting the multi-front nature of the assault on prayer practiced by various First Amendment fanatics, another self-styled “watchdog” group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, campaigned successfully to have the Pentagon disinvite Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, to lead a military day of prayer May 6th.  The entire prayer observance was then cancelled.

It may be that all these groups just have way too much time on their hands, with nothing to do but stir up lawsuits and forum shop for judges similarly inclined.  Their motives, and the results of their efforts, however, are not so benign.  By constantly sniping at virtually any activity in which government representatives engage that might fall into the category of “religious activity” – notwithstanding it be purely voluntary and in furtherance of nothing more than attempting to foster an atmosphere of greater civility and productivity in the public arena – these prayer police are diminishing the chances that public policy debates will actually soften and become more productive.

187 comments Add your comment

JTex

April 26th, 2010
9:23 pm

I’m sorry, “No More”, I assumed that you were capable of being intellectually honest. Apparently, I was incorrect. Here are the related quotes:

“Why can’t religious people comprehend that prayer should be private. Any time, even the invocation at the beginning of congressional sessions, a government official leads a prayer at a government function, that official violates the 1st Amendment”

“What did you say when Obama hosted the National Day of Muslim Prayer at the Nations Capital recently?”

The first quote describes a government function. Your response referred to a Muslim prayer day that was not, in fact, a government function. You attempted to cast it as such, but, thankfully, the “interwebs” proved to be your downfall. And now you’re trying to redirect the discussion because you’ve been caught in an untruth. Typical. And sad.

And just so we’re clear, sir, I have no objection to a “National Day of Prayer” that is inclusive of all faiths and recognizes the very real sociological and anthropological role that religion plays in our society. Such recognition does not lead to an establishment of religion, merely a recognition of religion’s role in our society. A National Day of Prayer allows those of ANY faith, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Universalist, Ba’hai, Zoroastrian, Taoist, Jewish, Wiccan, etc. etc. etc. to spend a day, should they so choose, in contemplation.

I suggest YOU spend that day in contemplation of your own prejudice against people whose beliefs don’t align with your own. You might also consider asking whichever Higher Power you acknowledge to bestow greater cognitive skills upon you. You seem to be lacking.

JTex

April 26th, 2010
9:27 pm

“but the day is not far off when a confessed non believer will become president.

That day is here, now.”

And again, sir, your own ignorance rears its ugly head.

There is no factual basis for your response. What evidence do you have to suggest that Obama is not a man of faith? You make a claim, yet are completely incapable of defending it. The man has declared his religious faith again and again…he has attended church, as far as any reasonable, rational person can tell, for most (if not all) of his adult AND pre-adult life…yet people like you persist in making these LUDICROUS comments that have no basis in reality.

So, please – provide EVIDENCE to prove your CLAIMS, you complete, unrepentant, uneducated, ill-informed, ideologically-damaged MORON!

neo-Carlinist

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm

No More Progressives, actually Liberty is not free, we pay taxes. Do you know why I used quotation marks? Check the preamble to the Constitution. Churches do not pay taxes. Why? Are there only certain Amendments (1st) which are “in and of it self” free?

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:41 pm

I hope local religious leaders will join me on the Marietta Square across from the Courthouse to ask that God impart His wisdom upon the State Court of Cobb County Georgia, the Cobb County Circuit Defender’s Office, and the Cobb County Council to act in accordance with His will as it regards Civil Rights abuses of the poor and people of color.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:44 pm

Did the Governor’s prayers on the Statehouse steps a couple of years ago asking God to end the drought, bring about the devestating floods that struck Cobb County last fall? God does answer prayers, so please be careful how you pray and what you ask for!

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:45 pm

I always ask (or qualify specific requests) that God’s will be done!

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:48 pm

I wonder how Her Honor Melodie Clayton will react if I ask for five minutes for prayer, or at least a moment of silence at my next Court appearance?

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:50 pm

I still pray that the law that requires the use of “household” income which has now made me homeless (literally), be changed, as God deems necessary or not.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:52 pm

I also pray that I not face incarceration for sleeping on the Courthouse steps when I arrive in the wee hours Thursday morning for my required Court appearance, as I have no where else to go, unless it is in God’s will that I be arrested.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:53 pm

I further pray that in a County where blacks make up 30 percent of the population, that more black faces be in a position of authority, if it is in accordance with God’s will.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
10:56 pm

I pray that the Georgia State Board of Education make the book, “The Pledge of Allegiance, A Revised History and Analysis (1892-2007)”, by Dr. John W. Baer, REQUIRED READING, if SB 518 becomes Law.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:00 pm

Lastly I pray that Jesus Christ, who died for my sins, conquered Death and Sin, and rose from the dead, protect me from harm if it be in God’s will, or provide my salvation should I meet death, and that the Holy Spirit continue to inspire me and lead me in the direction that God desires me to take.

In Jesus’s Name, I pray, Amen.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:05 pm

I ask that God qualify my request regading Dr. John W. Baer’s book, with the words, if it is in accordance with His will.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:09 pm

Does anyone know if Cobb County Contract documents make any reference to extentions of time requests due to “Acts of God” or “Acts of the public enemy”? I may need to introduce such documents as evidence, should my criminal case ever come to trial. In addition, if any biblical or religious experts might be interested in testifying, please contact me regarding expert testimony I may wish to introduce in my defense…

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:13 pm

I offer one more prayer~May God guide the Judge to grant immunity and job protection to a baliff of the Court who may be called to testify regarding statements made to someone. Said someone was told by the Judge in the case that she had no credibilty due to her testimony, under sworn oath before the Court and before God…This someone is in fact INCREDIBLE, and beyond belief. That is why I love her so…

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:14 pm

Again, I ask God to include the qualifying statement, if it be in accordance with His will, and I ask God to inspire the baliff in question to come forward with the Truth, as God leads him to do so or not…

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:27 pm

I pray that God, if it be in accordance with His will, inspire leaders of Must Ministries to lobby leaders to change the law, which presently leads to homelessness.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:30 pm

I pray that the Southern Center for Human Rights be provided with the means to sue to overturn all guilty verdicts and guilty pleas, where “household” income was used to deny Court appointed counsel to poor people, and therefore they were denied their Right to a Fair Trial, and I further pray that all Court costs and fines be returned promptly, if it is in accordance with God’s will.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:36 pm

I pray that the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, act to immediately stop the use of “household” income in the determination of indigence, and that the DOJ file suit on behalf of the poor defendants previously convicted without proper representation in Federal District Court, if it is in accordance with God’s will! I further pray that the Georgia Supreme Court step in, and apply their collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom to rule in this matter, and that they rule in accordance with God’s will!

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:43 pm

I pray that anyone who may be suffering or searching for answers, ask God, as they may understand Him, to lead them to find relief and answers, that they be comforted and guided, that they receive forgiveness, and forgive themselves, and that they forgive others, as God sees fit to speak to them. I pray that we find a spirit of acceptance, love, … See Moreand tolerance for each other, and realize that ALL are created equal in God’s eyes, and all should be treated with respect and honor. Perhaps we should begin to realize that there may be forces of evil that seek to destroy God’s plan.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 26th, 2010
11:53 pm

I pray that God lead our leaders, at the local, state, and national levels, to act in accordance with His will, and ask that God have mercy on the poorest of our country, and provide basic human rights to all, including clothing, food, shelter, health care, education, and financial opportunity, as well as equal protection under the law, the right to expess and observe their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, as God inspires the individual, and that God lead our religious leaders to respect the religious rights of the minority, who may not share the same religious beliefs of the majority, in accordance with God’s will.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 27th, 2010
12:06 am

I pray that those who may feel disenfranchised, or who reach a point of despair to the point that they resort to violence, be guided to follow the paths of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ghandi, regarding their teachings of social change through non-violence. I pray that the King Center will take the lead regarding continued Civil Rights violations and non-violent demonstrations and gatherings. I pray that the current civil unrest I sense not continue to escalate into civil disturbance and perhaps more. I pray that children of God throughout the world be permitted to live peacefully, without acts of war and opression. I pray that God have mercy on mankind, and allow us to grow in understanding and effectiveness, patience, kindness, tolerance, and love, and that we think of others ahead of ourselves. I pray that we open our hearts, minds, and spirits to the concept of brotherhood of ALL mankind. I pray in Jesus’s name, that God’s will be done, regarding the above requests, and regarding mankind’s possible deception by forces of evil, leading us to historically act upon what we believe to be God’s will, rather than His Holy Intentions for us all. Amen.

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 27th, 2010
12:07 am

I sum up all of the above prayers with this most simple prayer:
God help us, one and all!

Michael C. Hmielewski

April 27th, 2010
2:26 am

I think that “freaky, positive vibes”, may result in a transfer of energy in much the same way that prayer does….

No More Progressives!

April 27th, 2010
6:54 am

JTex

April 26th, 2010
9:23 pm

You’re quite a wordsmith. Like so many Liberal/Progressive types, you manage to contort and twist words to fit the occassion. But like ALL Liberal/Progressives, the one thing that you’re best at is character assassination.

Try again, tough guy. Your arguments sound like you’re trying to explain the meaning of the word “is.”

No More Progressives!

April 27th, 2010
6:58 am

neo-Carlinist

April 26th, 2010
9:36 pm
No More Progressives, actually Liberty is not free, we pay taxes.

Liberty is an inalienable right, bestowed upon you from your maker. It is, in fact, free.

You pay taxes because of Federal and State governments that have run wild and cannot restrain themselves. The Govt. does not “give” you Liberty; you exited the womb with inherent Liberty as a US Citizen.

Your obsession with churches paying taxes is interesting, though.

frankLeeDarling

April 27th, 2010
7:36 am

Jeremiah Caddell

April 27th, 2010
7:57 am

Despite what people may think I think that National Prayer Day should be allowed. I think that i have as much right to say what I think as anyone. IF muslims can be allowed to gather in washington heck I ll be there praying in washington and i dont give a flying flip what anyone says. My right to pray is guaranteed to the first amendment right. I can jump pray and sing to the top of my lungs by the grace of god. You know people want to read the bible, study it , but seldom ever people want to live the bible. A new world order is coming about with our idiotic president in the lead the end of time is coming get your life right and remember keep your faith the size of a mustard seed. And trust in him and he will take care of us. You can say

somewhereinga

April 27th, 2010
10:37 am

Christian Conservative: 11:11 said “LIBERALs are idiots..”

I guess my question would be “Is that something Jesus would say of anyone …or a true Christian would say of another American?”

neo-Carlinist

April 27th, 2010
12:33 pm

NMP, my point exactly. “freedom is not free”. whether it be an “inalienable right” bestowed by a Creator, or not, it has become a commodity to be “traded” or sold to the highest bidder by the “liberty brokers” in Washington and Atlanta. In short, they tax US and mete out liberty, justice, common defense, etc. like a salesman dispenses nails at a hardware store. the moment you become a citizen you SURRENDER your notion of freedom to some guys in powdered wigs who lived 250 years ago.

No More Progressives!

April 27th, 2010
1:04 pm

neo-Carlinist

April 27th, 2010
12:33 pm

….it has become a commodity to be “traded” or sold to the highest bidder by the “liberty brokers” in Washington………

Total agreement, Neo. It shouldn’t be this way, and it wasn’t designed this way, but you’re right.

So, what do we do about it?

Mike

April 27th, 2010
2:54 pm

neo-Carlinist

April 27th, 2010
3:06 pm

NPM, good (albeit, depressing) question. the short answer is convene a Constitutional Convention and update the law. The Founding Fathers were champions of liberty and inalienable rights, for sure, but they were wealthy property owners in a world indentured servants, slavery (where only certain citizens enjoyed freedom), and uncharted territories to the west. as the nation grew (in population and administration). this is why I cynically think the ruling class (politicians) have always “brokered” freedom. In essence, the United States liberated itself from a tyrannical monarchy, but the “better mousetrap” we a defacto tyrannical oligarchy (a three-headed monster). oh, and as an editorial note, please (and I don’t use the word please often), rethink your handle. “Progressive” is not a bad word. It originates from the word “progress”, which is good (if said progress is measured, judicious and considerate). I think some talking head or Karl Rove type hung the label on liberals without nuch thought, as in my opinion, MOST “liberal” at ideas do not reflect progress at all, but rather “business as usual”.

neo-Carlinist

April 27th, 2010
3:09 pm

excuse ommission. I meant to write, as the nation grew, the Constitution (law() did not. technology alone (our shift from an agrarian economy to a manufacturing economy and movement of people from rural farms to urban population centers, didn’t mesh well with the Bill of Rights. we need to periodically “update” rights (as evdienced by the fact that the Constitution has been amended some 27 times).

No More Progressives!

April 27th, 2010
3:53 pm

Yes, but many of the wealthy property owners (Founders) lost everything, some even their lives to see a just cause carried out.

Your cynical view of politicians is shared by me. It is, however, up to us to wrest power from these abusers and re-shape the political landscape. It’s why we have elections every 2 years.

Contitutional Amendment #28: Term Limits.

And as for progressives: in the definitive sense, yes, they may do some good. But a look into history about the “Progressive Movement” and I think you’ll find that a true progressive (Teddy R, Woodrow W, FDR) is a heinous and reprehensible person. These are the condescending elites that look down their long noses at us, the mere serfs of the Kindom. Their desire is to micromanage our every waking moment, because they truly believe that we are too stupid to do it oursleves.

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

April 28th, 2010
3:47 am

Okay, Barr, waiting for your next column, which I assume will focus on how the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law doesn’t jive with the fourth amendment.

Jay Randolph

May 15th, 2010
11:52 pm

I sure wish those who quote the violates the 1st Amendment, would first read it
We have an Amendment which tells us that Church is not to run the government, and the government is not to run the Church. However we do not have anything that says there is to be a seperation of God and Government which is why our money and so many of our monuments speak of God. Our country is in the shape it is in now because so many have forgotten what God has none for this Nation. Like schools, before we removed prayer from schools teachers big concern was gum under the desk. . . they now no longer worry aqbout that. . . now they are too busy worried about drugs, guns, rape and Murder in schools. . . Does anybody really think this is better. Or maybe the 350,000 murdered babies. No this is not what I want and this is why I am part of the National Prayer Day each month praying for our Country Jobs, Health and Government which has a myspace page http://www.myspace.com/national_prayer_day
Be a part of the solution, Join the National Prayer Day
Plan today, what you are going to say to God