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Call for an end to the National Day of Prayer

It’s supposed to be a non-sectarian, non-partisan, feel-good sort of event, but it’s promoted entirely by the Christian Religious Right, and this year they turned it into a full-blown political rally for the Republicans.

During an event organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force (a non-profit run by conservative evangelical Christians) and attended by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dobson slammed President Barack Obama, calling him the “abortion president.”

In a lengthy rant at an event that was supposed to be about prayer, not politics,  Dobson attacked Obama primarily for his support of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which says that most businesses must offer insurance plans to their employees that include access to no-cost birth control.

“President Obama, before he was elected, made it very clear that he wanted to be the abortion president,” Dobson fulminated. “He didn’t make any bones about it. This is something that he really was going to promote and support, and he has done that, and in a sense he is the abortion president.”

It’s a violation of the separation of church and state, and now its proponents are using it as an excuse to enlist a god in their partisan political attacks. So why do we still permit this crap to continue? Go pray on your own, Christians, and stop begging for validation from Caesar.

Comments

  1. CorvusCorax says

    This reminds me of a wedding I went to at a Catholic Church. The bride was noticeably pregnant, and in the middle of the ceremony, the priest(?) went off on a 20 minute rant about abortion. O_o

    Any excuse to get on the soapbox I guess…

  2. says

    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    Matthew 6:5-8

    Goodness, it’s almost like the Talibangelicals never bothered to read their own Holy Scriptures.

  3. says

    The National Day of Prayer attracts political statements from christians. Here was their theme for last year: “Our theme for 2013 is Pray for America, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.” They underlined “all” in that sentence.

  4. says

    Why should anyone be surprised that the National Day of Prayer, led by right-wing activist Shirley Dobson, turned into an anti-Obama event?

    Dobson promoted the event by warning that America “is being invaded by evils such as pornography, abortion, infidelity, same-sex marriage and the agenda of the far Left,” and invited Jonathan Cahn, who believes that President Obama’s re-election and marriage equality are signs of the End Times, to be the event’s keynote speaker.

    Immediately after James Dobson, the Focus on the Family founder and Shirley’s husband, framed the National Day of Prayer as an apolitical event, he blasted Obama as the “abortion president.”

    “Come and get me, Mr. President, if you must,” he said, quoting a letter he sent to Obama last week.

    “I will not yield to your wicked regulations.” This is not a huge surprise coming from Dobson, who back in 2012 exposed the highly political nature of the National Day of Prayer.

    Speaking with Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America after the 2012 election, Dobson said that his wife and National Day of Prayer vice chairman John Bornschein had used that year’s event to pray against Obama’s re-election. […]

    Yep. It’s a National Anti-Obama Festival of Assholiness.

    Quote is from:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/surprise-national-day-prayer-morphed-anti-obama-affair

  5. says

    This is from the 2012 American Prayer Initiative, a group that includes the National Day of Prayer’s Shirley Dobson:

    We petition You, God for Your healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. May they come to know Your power, Your mercy and Your love as You replace unnatural affections with ones You Yourself designed. […]

    We pray that the union of one man and one woman will be embraced by all societies as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family. […]

    We ask for Your guidance for accurate rulings over first amendment issues, and an awareness in our country that the words, “separation of church and state” are found nowhere in any one of our founding documents. We ask for a reversal of rulings which have inaccurately established “separation” as a Constitutional principle.[…]

  6. says

    President Obama sort of goes along with the National Day of Prayer folderol. He issues a proclamation. This year’s proclamation was heavy on the the idea of protecting the “freedom to exercise our faiths freely.” Obama is not an integral part of the planning, execution and hosting of the day of prayer.

    Obama’s handling of the day is quite different from his immediate predecessor. For eight years, George W. Bush held a National Day of Prayer event in the East Room of the White House, organized by something called the National Day of Prayer Task Force, led by religious right activists.

    In 2009, Obama politely told the NDP Task Force to find a private location for their events.

    Of course, that leads to the obvious question of why the nation needs a National Day of Prayer in the first place.

    Those who assume this is a relic of the colonial era are mistaken. In the early 1950s, when lawmakers were adding “under God” to the Pledge and changing all American money to include the phrase “In God We Trust,” Congress created an official annual Prayer Day for the nation. Congress, under pressure from the religious right, changed the law in 1988 to set the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May. […]

    What’s more, for the faithful, every day is a day of prayer, making official government proclamations unnecessary. And for Americans who aren’t religious, there’s no reason a secular government based on a secular constitution needs to set aside one day a year in which a presidential proclamation says prayer is worthwhile.

    The right occasionally likes to talk about “founding principles” and “restoring” traditional American norms, but the fact remains that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison refused to issue prayer proclamations during their presidencies. I’d like to think they had some familiarity with the values on which the nation was founded.

    Correction: Madison issued a prayer proclamation during the War on 1812, but later said he regretted it. […]

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-annual-national-day-prayer

  7. says

    “One person chose to walk out, as far as we know,” he said, “and that’s what everybody focuses on. But the people who were there were with me 100 percent, because they also believe in the sanctity of human life.” — Dr. Dobson, in an interview on Fox News

  8. says

    http://crooksandliars.com/2014/05/james-dobson-uses-national-day-prayer-slam

    Thursday was May Day. It was also the National Day of Prayer, which really means the National Day of Self-Righteous Prigs Praying in Public Like the Pharisees Did.
    […]

    After rambling on about a $1 surtax for the support of abortion, without missing an opportunity to also opine about how taxes always skyrocket, he claimed this “tax” would go to Planned Parenthood.

    Dobson wants everyone to know that “tax” offends his conscience. Except it’s a myth. It’s a LIE. A big fat throbbing lie that he’s using to make a political statement. If he had a conscience, he would acknowledge that.

    It wasn’t enough to just lie to his audience. Dobson also had to read the letter he sent out to his mailing list. He refuses to pay the surcharge. Which is fine, since he’s not paying the surcharge.[…]

  9. grumpyoldfart says

    Which American politicians would have the courage to call for an end to the National Day of Prayer? (I’m guessing not one!)

  10. raven says

    It was inevitable.

    Hitchen’s Rule: Religion poisons everything!!! Including itself.

    It clearly poisoned the National Day of Prayer. You couldn’t expect anything different.

  11. blf says

    The advantage of the National Day of Preying is it (1) Identifies the gullible rubes who…; and (2) …Are good lion food.

  12. abusedbypenguins says

    The Greeks and Romans had required days of religious participation. That went quite well for them.

  13. Pteryxx says

    not as OT as I would’ve hoped:

    Alabama’s chief justice says First Amendment only protects Christians

    Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

    “They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

  14. steve oberski says

    @Gregory in Seattle

    Goodness, it’s almost like the Talibangelicals never bothered to read their own Holy Scriptures.

    “Christian, n.: one who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.”

    ― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  15. Usernames are smart says

    Goodness, it’s almost like the Talibangelicals never bothered to read their own Holy Scriptures.
    —Gregory in Seattle (#3)

    That is one of the ironies of Christianity: throughout its existence, it has relied heavily on the written word, yet most of its adherents are either illiterate or have never read their holy texts completely.

    There is nothing in the bible about abortion, and lots of stuff about how fetuses are worthless. For example:

    Leviticus 27:6 – And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.

    Under a month old? 0 shekels.

    Numbers 3:14-15 – And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.

    Under a month old? Don’t count ‘em.

  16. says

    In 2008 Shirley Dobson and her fellow christians tried overtly to bar non-christians from speaking at National Day of Prayer. Now they do the same thing less overtly. None of the christian-only agenda matches up with Harry Truman’s ecumenical description.

    Here’s coverage of that 2008 debacle:

    […] Thanks to Dobson, this year’s task force volunteers are required to sign pledges, stating: “I commit that NDP activities I serve with will be conducted solely by Christians while those of differing beliefs are welcome to attend.” Volunteers must also affirm that they “believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God” and 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.” Such oaths violate the non-sectarian nature of the National Day of Prayer and clearly align “a government-sponsored event with a particular Christian denomination, in violation of the basic provisions of the First Amendment to the Constitution,” says Keller. […]

    Mother Jones link from 2008.

  17. ck says

    @mikeyb,

    I don’t know that I’d go that far. They can retain their tax-free status, but they will now be required to comply with all the regulations that regular, non-religious charities have to comply with, including public disclosure of their finances. Given how much outright theft of donations happens within the confines of religious institutions, we can even say it’s for their own good.

  18. says

    ck:

    I don’t know that I’d go that far.

    I would. It’s a strong-arm tactic from long ago, openly stating the power of the church over all, including government. It’s really past time for that to end.

  19. says

    @5
    Lynna, OM

    It’s a National Anti-Obama Festival of Assholiness.

    …Ass Holiness?

    They can retain their tax-free status, but they will now be required to comply with all the regulations that regular, non-religious charities have to comply with, including public disclosure of their finances. Given how much outright theft of donations happens within the confines of religious institutions, we can even say it’s for their own good.

    ya, that’s a minimum.

    I’m not sure what gets classified as having “charity” status. I’m suspicious that there is one set of qualifications for the religious/churches, and another for the rest (even leaving aside the public disclosure of finances). Not sure though…

  20. says

    [..] they will now be required to comply with all the regulations that regular, non-religious charities have to comply with, including public disclosure of their finances.

    Man oh man, that would certainly upset the mormon leaders. They depend on financial obscurity to cover their ownership of land in Florida, of City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City (more than a billion there), of huge tourist centers in Hawaii, etc. etc.

  21. bittys says

    @16 Usernames are smart

    There is nothing in the bible about abortion

    Numbers 5:11-31

    Otherwise known as the “Ordeal of the Bitter water”. If you suspect your wife has been unfaithful, give her an abortifacient, and see what happens. Of course, as is usually the case, these preachers conveniently ignore a section of their holy text when it suits their own purposes

  22. footface says

    Leviticus 27:6 – And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.

    Numbers 3:14-15 – And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number

    Those parts are metaphors.

  23. steve oberski says

    Those parts are metaphors.

    I’ve never been able to find the parts that say that the other parts are metaphors.

    What’s the take away lesson from this little exemplar of morality ?

    Psalm 137:9

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

  24. ck says

    @Inaji,

    I think that forcing the churches to choose between tax-free, but required disclosure of many of the things they’d like to keep secret, or they keep the secrecy but pay taxes would make things far more interesting. If you just force them to pay taxes, they’ll just play the self-martyr which will play well with their congregations and they might even gain more strength politically. On the other hand, if they have a choice that most of them can’t take without serious PR problems (like the ones Lynna mentioned), then you’ve got them cornered because either they take the tax hit, or they have to endure difficult questions from their flock.

  25. David Marjanović says

    Argh, that’s “‘biblical view“.

    I think that forcing the churches to choose between tax-free, but required disclosure of many of the things they’d like to keep secret, or they keep the secrecy but pay taxes would make things far more interesting.

    Definitely interesting!

  26. says

    brianpansky

    I’m suspicious that there is one set of qualifications for the religious/churches, and another for the rest (even leaving aside the public disclosure of finances). Not sure though…

    Pretty much. On the one hand, being a church gets you nonprofit status with basically no questions asked (exactly how far that goes depends somewhat on state codes, but it usually goes pretty damn far. Scientology famously takes shameless advantage of this, among other less well known scams.) On the other, actual charities/nonprofits have to jump through extensive hoops regarding what they are, in fact, doing to benefit the community etc., audits to see if they’re accomplishing anything (those are usually from funding agencies, not regulatory ones, but nevertheless it’s not a problem churches have nearly as much). A large part of it is that the laws are written in such a way that telling people about your religious beliefs is considered to be prima facie beneficial (it’s specifically called out under the heading of educational missions), and it’s easy to show you’ve been doing that. I’d like those bits removed, and make churches split like any private company, with a (tax-paying) corporate structure for the business end (the church), and an affiliated (tax-free) foundation for charitable activities that follows all the usual rules for nonprofits, including audits etc.

  27. unclefrogy says

    the choice proposed here for tax or full disclosure of religious organizations, churches is a good idea and I would be in favor of it.
    It is very unlikely to ever become the law in my life time however. If it ever becomes a reality that a sufficient majority of the people would support such a law and had the ability to pass such a law it probably would not be necessary as religion would have slipped from its place of competitive power and be rapidly becoming marginalized.
    it might be possible to get the national day of prayer abolished sooner
    either through the courts or through the individual states

    uncle frogy

  28. The Countess says

    FTA: “Dobson just blew a hole into this idea of being a non-partisan National Day of Prayer,” Hahn said. “It was very disturbing to me … and really a shame. James Dobson hijacked the National Day of Prayer — this non-partisan, non-political National Day of Prayer — to promote his own distorted political agenda.”

    Yah think?

  29. anteprepro says

    National Day of Prayer, from 1952, 2 years before “Under God” was added to the pledge, and 5 years before “In God We Trust” was printed on dollar bills. Oh the glory of McCarthyistic “Deism”.

  30. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    If there had to be a national prayer day, it really should have been led by Pete Seeger.

    Too late, alas.

  31. atheistblog says

    It’s a violation of the separation of church and state, and now its proponents are using it as an excuse to enlist a god in their partisan political attacks. So why do we still permit this crap to continue? Go pray on your own, Christians, and stop begging for validation from Caesar.

    That’s how you respond. Need more of this tone.

  32. busterggi says

    I’ll support a national day of prayer when believers allow passage of a law prohibiting all prayer during the rest of the year and its strictly enforced.

  33. says

    Corvus @ 2

    Any excuse to get on the soapbox I guess…

    They do love them some captive audience.

    I was in attendance at a hijacked graduation ceremony for a Lutheran college. The sheer conceit of hijacking other’s events to bloviate is just… just…

  34. marey says

    After reading Num. 5.11……, I’d say the bible is in favor of abortion.