Finally, We Can Agree

It’s not every day I agree with Baptists on prayer, but today is a notable exception:

J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said “it is not the government’s job to tell the American people what, where or when to pray or even if they should pray”….

“The problem with the National Day of Prayer is that it is an official act of the government urging citizens to engage in a religious exercise,” Walker said.

Walker said people of faith do not require the government’s stamp of approval for their religious practices.

“A day of prayer is more appropriately called for by pastors, rabbis and imams among us — not civil magistrates, Congress, or even an American president.”

I agree — let the religious leaders encourage people to pray, not the government.

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  • Niva Tuvia

    It’s not like anyone is “forcing” national prayer day on anyone else. But I really don’t see the point in it, since religious people should pray, well, religiously, on a regular basis. No one should need a holiday to remember to pray. I mean, I forgot today was even national prayer day. Lol. So much for that.I guess that’s why Obama ended the prayer day service tradition at the white house. No reason to have it.

    Or as Nathan Diament said “While some will no doubt criticize the Obama White House for this decision, we think that is inappropriate,” he said, “and, moreover, not in keeping with the purpose of the observance which is to unify Americans through a national moment of reflection and aspiration to higher purposes.”

    • cypressgreen

      Actually, I think it IS forcing in a way. Our governmental representatives at all levels get pressured to join in on proclamations, prayer breakfasts, etc. Who wants to be the governor who says, “Hey, we don’t need a day of prayer.” That’s like political suicide. You practically can’t get elected these days w/o a nice little statement about how you’re a ‘person of faith.’
      Many of our founders kept their real thoughts on religion private. It wasn’t cool to let the general public know that you weren’t Mr. Super Christian. That’s why we have to read their private writings to know how they really felt about religion.
      I applaud Obama because this is a step closer to him ignoring the whole thing. And if the top dog doesn’t go to a prayer breakfast, the little dogs can follow suit with less negative attention.

      • Frank Zappa

        “It’s not like anyone is “forcing” national prayer day on anyone else.”

        Wrong. How much does this National Prayer Day cost taxpayers? The government is using my tax dollar for something I do not support nor believe in… THEIR religion.

        I don’t want one red cent of my tax dollar paying for THEIR danish and coffee let alone to have the government endorse prayer to some fairy-tale skygod on my nickel.

  • The Angry Philistine

    Yup Mr. Walker nailed it. It is not the governments role to support a religious practice or agenda. It is the religions that are responsible for thier own propagation.

  • The Medium Lebowski

    Could we please rename today the National Day of Superstitious Mumblings?

  • Len

    What about national thinking day?

    • DeMar

      But that would leave out all of the fundies and you don’t wanna be pushing them out of their own holiday. :-)

  • yrif
  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I’ve always wondered why conservative Christians are scared to death of government run health care, but push the idea of a religious government.

    • Lorena


      Universal health care with affect the pockets of the rich conservatives.

      Prayer makes the poor forget that they’re destitute. It makes them stop winning for free health care, since God is said to be the health care provider.

      • Mike aka MonolithTMA


  • DDM

    “…and, moreover, not in keeping with the purpose of the observance which is to unify Americans through a national moment of reflection and aspiration to higher purposes.”

    Does there really have to be a “higher purpose” to do anything? Come on now.

  • Bissrok

    What the hell is a “National Day of Prayer”? Is that something new? And I’m confused by the premise. Are religious people not praying on normal days? Why did this become a national event?

    • Elemenope

      It has existed in the US since 1952 (by act of Congress, IIRC), and was a fixed date since (again, IIRC) 1985. It is specifically a day for the purpose of soliciting prayers by citizens for the country, making it even more of a despicable church-state incursion than the title makes it sounds like.

      • Michael

        Like the addition of “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and the decision to make “In God We Trust” the national motto (though that was on coins since the Civil War), The National Day of Prayer began during McCarthyism to separate us from the damn atheistic commies.

        Apparently America’s mindset is still in the 50s.

      • Bissrok

        So our country set aside this specific day to request that Christians pray for them? That seems… strange.

        I have to wonder, though, does getting a lot of prayers together directed toward US benefit have a greater effect than if just one person did it? And, if a system like that has been shown to work, why wouldn’t we expand that focus to, oh I don’t know, the entire world? I mean, it’s God. He’s all powerful. Wouldn’t take much extra effort on his part. As long as your organizing an attempt to get his attention and beg for a favor, you might as well aim higher. Feels a little self centered to waste that focused effort on an extremely wealthy country.

      • Francesc

        You are doing that since 1952??
        Wow, more than fifty years of data! I bet the power of prayers has been shown since then.
        Has not?

  • gmcfly

    The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has a pretty interesting history. Originating from the Southern Baptist Convention (home of most of today’s Christian fundamentalists), the BJC became more and more at odds with the SBC during the 1980s, and in 1991 the Southern Baptists voted to cut off all funding to the Baptist Joint Committee.

    The BJCRL is now supported by individuals and several mainline Baptist denominations.

  • J.R.

    I agree with this pastor. He actually suports seperation of church and state, and probably understands the determent of it.

  • Elemenope

    Apropos of nothing but recent experience, the new Star Trek movie rocked.

  • Steve Blake

    Prayer: 5 per cent success rate.

  • P Smith

    Those who want mandatory religion and prayer in government want THEIR religion and prayer in government. The fastest spread of religion has always been done by latching onto power and imposing it violently.