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Edwin Kagin, On Public Prayer

In honor of the unconstitutional “National Day of Prayer,” here reprinted is the commentary contained in the collection “Baubles of Blasphemy,” available from American Atheists Press.

Permission is given for non-profit reproduction. If you make money on this, I want some of it.

Edwin.

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KAGIN’S COLUMN

ON PUBLIC PRAYER

The family that prays together stays together. Religious putdown of the families of non-believers.

Prayer is the means whereby humans communicate with the supernatural deity or deities in whom they believe. Most religions accept uncritically the reality of beings who exist outside the laws of nature and who can, upon appropriate application, alter those laws for the benefit of the believer. One makes supplication to the god of choice by silent or vocal praise and the lodging of requests for divine intervention. This practice is known as “prayer.”

Christianity is the dominant religion of the United States. It is mythically based on the life and teaching of Jesus, the deity made man. Fundamentalists believe every word of the Bible (the sacred texts) to be the word of God. Here’s what God, through Jesus (also God), said about prayer: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:5-6 King James Version in a stolen Gideon Bible. We need not bother with the more recent translations. If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for us.
What we have here is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, God Incarnate, the Light of the World giving definitive, authoritative, and unimpeachable information on how to pray if the person praying wants God to pay attention. Preempting all contrary mandates, the one God has given his orders on prayer to all people for all times until the end of the world. The instructions are strict and inflexible. There are no exceptions. When one prays he should go into his closet and shut the door.

This command of the deity on earth in human form was given publicly in the “Sermon on the Mount,” wherein the Christ conveyed the will of the Father. The Lamb of God went on to dictate into the record an example of how to pray: “Our Father which art in heaven,” etc. (How Jesus was God and discussed the will of his father, who was also God in heaven must wait for a future consideration of the mythology of the “Holy Trinity.”) This is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” When one prays it, or any other prayer, one has to do so behind closed doors in one’s closet, not publicly. The “Lord’s Prayer” was not openly prayed by Jesus, but was taught to be repeated only in private. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, before being crucified, he prayed privately. He probably didn’t have a closet. While hanging on the cross, he prayed with others about, but he really couldn’t, under the circumstances, be expected to deliver these final prayers elsewhere. Thus, prayers are to be given from behind closed doors unless you are alone in the mountains or trussed up for execution. In fairness, the orders probably leave room for any silent or quiet prayer that is not rendered in public. All public prayers are forbidden and are a deliberate disobedience to the will of god.

The Son of Man not only set out the rules for prayer and other matters in the sermon on the mountain but concluded with a warning of the dire consequences of disobedience: “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:26-27.

So there it is. Our world is coming unglued and we suffer crime, violence, and war because of public prayer. The more out of the closet prayer, the more awful things get. Those who yell loudest that the Bible is the inerrant word of God are the worst offenders. The more they argue that we must return to the Bible, the more they blasphemously engage in uncloseted prayer. They doom us by their forbidden entreaties to the Almighty whose commands they flaunt. Nowhere is the influence of Satan clearer seen. Satan has deceived the faithful to engage in prayer meetings, prayer breakfasts, and all manner of condemned celestial communications reaching into the very foundations of government. Heaven help us, there are even those who advocate publicly praying in our schools as a solution to the problems directly created by that very disobedience to ultimate authority. There are prayers on radio and on television, in churches, in homes and in auditoriums. The more we publicly pray, the more we become the most violent and crime-invested nation on earth. Is this our American heritage, our family values? Why do we deliberately disobey God? The American civil war was conducted by armies who publicly prayed and believed god supported their cause and was on their side. Lincoln observed that “both sides may be, and one must be, wrong.”

Humanists who wrote our Constitution tried to prevent the problem. God is not mentioned in the Constitution, and church and state are separated in the Bill of Rights. This is probably all that has kept Satan from totally leading us to destruction. Our greatness comes from humanists, our problems from the folly of those who advocate and practice public prayer.

It is all so simple. A believer is not permitted to disregard a direct order from the deity without consequences. Better to be a non-believer than one condemned under one’s own rules. Examples that impious prayer doesn’t work are legion. Every fundamentalist bigot in the country publicly prayed that Mr. Clinton not be elected president of the United States. The prayers failed. God is not mocked.

So if you must be a believer, get it right. Read your Bible. Do you think Jesus was wrong? Obey your God. Stop all forms of public prayer. It’s hard to stand on your feet when you’re on your knees.

And don’t naively assume your daughter has religion when she comes home with a Gideon Bible in her suitcase.

Ed Kagin

March, 1994

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