The National Prayer Breakfast took place on Thursday, the 8th of February this year. I think this year’s Prayer Breakfast deserved a lengthy reaction and I figured having more voices involved would probably be a good thing. If you want to read the transcript for the National Prayer Breakfast click here, and if you want to watch the actual speech I’ll, as usual, be linking it right below this paragraph.
Response To The National Prayer Breakfast Speech:
President Donald Trump indulged the beliefs of some of the worst kinds of Christians by repeating the lie that faith is central to estadounidense life. Faith (I’m talking about Christian faith, but this could easily apply to all kinds of faiths in unsubstituted beliefs) is a lot of things, dangerous, & lazy, among them but it is not central to estadounidense life nor does it deserve to be treated with such deference by politicians who serve constituents of various religious faiths including very importantly none at all. Faith is not central to life in this country unless you are a religious leader and while there are plenty of those, they are also not central to estadounidense life even if they are in many but not all cases good people whose hard work outside of their religion and religious beliefs objectively contribute to their communities.
One of the problems that some have already pointed out is beyond the ridiculousness of a morning wasted at a prayer breakfast by men and women with the power to write & enact actual laws when there’s important work to be done from a legislative standpoint, is the fact that in this breakfast (which has always been a Christian event, mind you, with it’s founder Abraham Vereide being a Methodist minister and the group he founded which organized the NPB being the International Christian Leadership group, which would later be incorporated as the Fellowship Foundation) there was no attempt at all to hide favoritism of Christianity, with other presidents usually at least pretending to care what non-Christians think, with Obama referencing nonbelievers as well as non-Christians in his prayer breakfasts. I understand and largely agree with the sentiment but from the start, the National Prayer Breakfast is an exclusionary tradition and no amount of pandering can undo that.
America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer.
This nation is not strengthened by the power of prayer. This is a brilliant example of a kind but baseless sentiment, which many believers not just in Christianity but in other religions are very good at providing and it’s annoying that pointing out their baselessness makes nonbelievers and skeptics look like jerks but it’s still necessary. This kind of thinking does believers a disservice because when they suffer unthinkable tragedies it implies that they had the power to change or challenge them but somehow didn’t when many of these tragedies are not at all the fault of the believers and nothing the believers could have done would have prevented them from happening. It’s victim blaming for the worst and most powerful kinds of tragedies, natural disasters, terminal illnesses, and acts of hate that are beyond any single person’s power to prevent.
Our rights are not given to us by man; our rights come from our Creator. No matter what, no Earthly force can take those rights away.
I get that this is frustrating to hear, but objectively our rights are decided upon by the societies we live in and by our fellow people and a very important consequence of that is us having to fight for our rights. It’s also just plain wrong because plenty of people find their human rights taken away from them by other people. The sort of thinking being promoted by this speech takes all the progress humanity has made over thousands of years for granted and encourages laziness when it comes to fighting both for our rights and for the rights of others by implying that we lack the capabilities to deprive people of their rights, which we demonstrably don’t. We need to fight for our rights and we can’t and shouldn’t pretend that our rights have been decided upon by a being greater than us with the power to enforce it’s will without our intervention because other people will pretend that their decisions to strip us of our rights were decided upon by either that same greater being or another one and they won’t be as lazy as we have been. Accepting that we own responsibility for our rights is an important thing to do and is a vital first step in making society better at expanding access to human rights domestically and fighting for human rights abroad.
When catastrophic hurricanes struck, first responders and everyday citizens dove into rushing waters to save stranded families from danger. And they saved them by the thousands. Neighbors opened their homes to those in need of food, clothes, shelter. Firefighters braved blinding smoke and flames to rescue children from devastating wildfires.
During the horrific shootings, strangers shielded strangers, and police officers ran into a hail of bullets to save the lives of their fellow Americans, right in Las Vegas. A terrible day, a terrible night. But such bravery.
If we were a nation strengthened by prayer none of this would have happened in the first place. This is clear proof that actions matter more than prayer, and the fact that some of these people were praying while performing the actions doesn’t undermine the strength of the argument I and other like-minded individuals are making when we point this out if anything it shows that there are things that matter more than prayer.
And soldiers, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, airmen, and Marines have spent long months away from home defending our great American flag.
Because prayer doesn’t strengthen our nation. Actions do. And not the action of praying, but the action of actually doing productive things, like becoming a firefighter, a police officer, a member of the Coast Guard, or of other branches of the armed forces.
Today, we thank God that Sophia is with us, and she’s recovering, and she’s walking very well.
You know who I’m thanking? The doctors who performed the surgery. Not the God that could, in theory, cure the disease or have stopped her from having it in the first place, but the doctors, nurses, & healthcare providers who stepped up and did what for whatever reason your God is apparently too busy to do: help a suffering child. You cannot give God credit here because God has the power to stop this but doesn’t. It wouldn’t even infringe upon free will because no one willed this child to have this disease, and it would, in fact, be fulfilling the free will of the family of the child, the child herself, and the healthcare providers involved who want to see her recover and overcome the disease entirely. And no one believes that this child would have gotten better on her own because no one fought trying when the doctors performed the surgery. No one believed God would do anything demonstrable in this scenario, only that at best he would “permit” Sophia be able to recover from her surgery.
This was a terrible speech. It was nothing but fluff for Trump’s Christians and only served to make them feel good while doing nothing that was objectively positive or beneficial for the multitudes of people in and out of this country who aren’t Christian and also did nothing for Christians as well. It ignored the realities of not only nonbelievers existing in this country but also of non-Christians being here and ignored the fact that people’s hard work is not attributable to God but to their own senses of ethics, determination, dreams, and desires. America’s greatness comes not from lazy speeches and the sort of poor reasoning that perpetuates this type of thinking but from the hard work and determination of men and women who realize they must build their own destinies and fight to reach something greater than anyone ever dreamed possible for them. It comes from brave people who independent of their religious beliefs dream of an equal society where they won’t be ignored and will instead be viewed as full citizens, equal in every respect to every one of their fellows. It wasn’t just Christians who built that, but followers of hundreds of different religious beliefs including a lack of religious beliefs. Despite Trump’s refusal to acknowledge our work because we aren’t Christians we still matter. This nation isn’t great because of God but because of mankind and because of the diversity of our views coming together.
Out of many beliefs, we have become one nation that is diverse in thought but great in deed and great in freedom or at least has the potential to be. Trump’s speech was bad but just remember we deserve better than him and so too do his followers. One day we’ll elect a better president, someone who actually unites us not someone who like their God has a favorite race and a favorite group and only cares about them.
This image is from Pixabay and it’s just of two people holding hands over what appears to be a Bible and thus the implication is that they are joined in prayer.