Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shirley Dobson's National Day of Bigotry and Politics?

...or a National Day of (Christians ONLY) Prayer?

May 1 is National Day of Prayer day.


The National Day of Prayer is a day designated by the United States Congress as a day when all Americans regardless of faith are asked to come together and pray in their own way.

However, the National Day of Prayer Task Force phrases things differently:

"Americans of all faiths are encouraged to participate in the [National Day of Prayer] according to their own traditions. However, the [National Day of Prayer] Task Force [only] provides promotional materials and sponsors several events in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition". The application for volunteer coordinators with the Task Force lists the following as a primary qualification, "Commitment to Christ. A volunteer must be an evangelical Christian who has a personal relationship with Christ. I acknowledge that I am working for the Lord Jesus Christ and the furthering of His Work on earth and agree to perform my work with the highest standard of Christian faith."

Hmm...I thought that this country was founded to be a refuge for everyone - not an exclusive club.

This is definitely an "Evangelical Christians ONLY" club day. The inconsistencies in the above statement seem just a bit ridiculous: "Judeo-Christian" but "evangelical Christian" means absolutely no practicing Jews allowed.

Right-wing Christians must use qualifiers: "Prayer" is NOT NECESSARILY CHRISTIAN! If
you're going to exclude whole groups of people, call it for it is intended to be: The National Day of Christian-ONLY Prayer.

It is NOT a day for:

Hindu prayer
Sikh prayer
Muslim prayer
Shinto prayer
Progressive Christian prayer (everyone who is not a True Evangelical Fundamentalist)
Catholic prayer (it's too ritualistic)
...and, ah, sorry but no Jewish prayers either: "God Almighty does not hear the prayers of a Jew" (Bailey Smith, past President of the Southern Baptist Convention). So why would they bother?

Shirley Dobson:, since you're the leader of Task Force, I'll address this to you:

The diversity (gasp!) of America is not celebrated by exclusivity. Freedom of Religion means freedom to practice religion. It's what allows people like Fred Phelps to picket soldiers' funerals (yes, freedom of speech too) John Hagee to call Catholicism heresy, and Pat Robertson to blame 9-11 on gays. However, it also allows all Americans to pray in whatever way they wish, or not to pray in any traditional sense. To imply that the National Day of Prayer is for Christians ONLY is to distort the meaning of an American freedom. If you must, call your group the National Day of Christian Prayer Task Force. If you're not afraid to be labeled "Christian" - it makes things much clearer. Of course, if you want to be truly correct in your group's name, it should be The National Day of Christian Politically Conservative Prayer, but that would be too long and too many of us in the US suffer from ADD as it is.


To diverge slightly:

Diversity in religion has certainly brought out the best, worst and oddest in America. When I researched "On This Day", I came across a name that very softly whispered in my memory of history: Father Divine. I looked him up in and here's just a small part of what I found out about this preacher who believed he was God and founded the International Peace Mission Movement:

Father Divine traveled south, where he preached extensively in Georgia. In 1913, conflicts with local ministers got him sentenced to 60 days in a chain gang. While serving his sentence, several prison inspectors were injured in an auto accident, which he viewed as the direct result of their disbelief.

Upon release, he attracted a following of mostly black women in Valdosta, Georgia. He taught celibacy and the rejection of gender categorizations.

On February 6, 1914, several followers' husbands and local preachers had Divine arrested for lunacy. This actually expanded his ministry, with reporters and worshippers deluging his prison cell. Some whites even began calling on him. One white follower, J. R. Moseley, arranged for J. B. Copeland, a respected Valdosta lawyer, to represent him pro bono. Father Divine was found mentally sound in spite of "maniacal" beliefs.


And for another diversion: Happy Birthday, Carol Burnett! I wish YouTube had a better version of the most famous comedic lines in history, but here it is, in tribute to you: