Today is a very sober and somber day, the anniversary of a vicious and cowardly attack against thousands of innocent men, women and children, a day when we ought to reflect on the horrors that dwell in the depths of hatred, a day for all men to put aside petty differences and affirm the bonds of charity and compassion.
President Obama will be the featured speaker at an “interfaith faith prayer service” at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (interior photo at left) on the evening of September 11th to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the nation. Curiously, while the event will also include a “Roman Catholic bishop, a Jewish rabbi, Buddhist nun, a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North America, and a Muslim musician,” reported Ron Kerby at Beliefnet.com, “…not a single protestant or evangelical has been invited to participate.”
In point of fact, the interfaith prayer service was open to all, including evangelicals, as even a cursory visit to the National Cathedral website will show. And, by the way, if you read the program for the morning prayer service, you’ll find that while representatives of various faiths were indeed on the program, President Obama is not. He is scheduled to speak at the evening concert, on the same program as Patty LaBelle, Alan Jackson, and Denyce Graves, and it’s open to the public—even if they’re evangelical Christians.
The lack of a factual basis, however, does not prevent a whole slew of evangelical Christians from pouring on the persecution fever.
“Completely left off the program was anybody represented by the National Association of Evangelicals,” he added. “No Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Wesleyans, or Mennonites. Nobody from the Church of Christ or the Assemblies of God.”
Kerby quoted Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, who observed: “It’s not surprising. There is a tragic intolerance toward Protestants, and particularly toward evangelicals, and I wish the president would refuse to speak unless it [were] more representative.”
Not a bad idea, actually. If the President were to refuse to attend any religious function that did not schedule speakers from every frickin denomination in America, that would go a long way towards secularizing the presidency.
Never mind that the program was initiated and hosted by Protestant Christians, and was sponsored to promote interfaith understanding and tolerance—this event is clearly an attempt to persecute religion, and Christianity in particular.
Another Southern Baptist spokesman, Richard Land, told the Daily Caller: “The idea that you would exclude a representative of at least 35 percent of the population that identifies with evangelical Christianity is difficult to comprehend, much less to defend.” He added that even more perplexing “is the Cathedral describing President Obama’s event as a ‘secular service.’ If it’s a secular service, why is it being held in a cathedral?”
Hmm, maybe because (a) the President is going to be speaking at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and (b) it’s a concert, not a prayer service?
Land said that “evangelicals and other people of faith are rightly offended at this attempt to marginalize religious faith in this way as we commemorate the memory of this very painful event in American history.”
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, pointed out to the Daily Caller that there are “an estimated 70 to 80 million evangelical Christians in this nation. We are important members of almost all communities. Some of us died on 9/11. It is outrageous that we were excluded.”
Yes, it was so outrageous of those Episcopalians to marginalize religious faith and exclude evangelical Christians by publicly inviting them to attend, to share their stories online, and to participate in some small gesture of understanding and unity.
Richard Weinberg, a spokesman for the National Cathedral, attempted to justify the snub toward the nation’s evangelical community by pointing out that the “Cathedral itself is an Episcopal church and it stands to reason that our own clergy serve as Christian representatives” in the interfaith service.
Uh oh, he’s appealing to reason? Good luck with that approach, guy!
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said the service was shaping up to look more like a United Nations pep rally than a prayer service. “Three quarters of the American people identify as Christian and nearly a third of them are evangelical Christian,” he told Fox News. “And yet, there is not a single evangelical on the program.”
Noting that the event was drenched in political correctness, Perkins told Fox that it is “historically inaccurate that in times of need or mourning that Americans pray to the Hindu or Buddhist gods or the god of Islam. America is overtly a Christian nation that prays to the Judeo-Christian God — and specifically to Jesus Christ.”
Because everybody knows that in times of need, Episcopalians pray to Hindu and Buddhist gods, and to the god (note the lowercase “g”) of Islam, instead of praying to the Judeo-Christian God, specifically Jesus. And there aren’t any American Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims either. We’re a Christian nation, and by that I mean that my religion is the only right one, and I’m the only one who should be allowed to hold a national prayer service.
Yeesh. I’m glad the National Cathedral was broad-minded enough to open up their prayer service to representatives of other faiths. Sadly, it seems like it’s easier to build bridges of harmony and friendship between liberal Christians and Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims than it is to achieve tolerance and understanding within the Christian faith. Or at least, between conservative Christians and almost anybody else. Love, compassion, mercy, tolerance, and other such virtues should be common to all, but the soil in some places doesn’t seem to let such fruits flourish.
Wonder what Jesus would have to say about that?