Kelly Shackleford, one of the looniest of the Christian right legal brigade — a small step above Larry Klayman and Matthew Staver, perhaps, which is a lot like being a tiny bit more stable than Lindsay Lohan — doesn’t seem to understand that criticism is not the same thing as censorship. He begins with this nonsensical statement:
Prayer is one of the greatest of American traditions. It dates back to the founding of this country. In addition to an American spirit of freedom, boldness, and independence, prayer reflects an important counterbalancing American spirit – humility.
Sorry, it isn’t humility. It is, in fact, a massive ego pretending to be humble. This is quite normal in religious right circles, this faux claim of humility — “this doesn’t have anything to do with me, it’s all about the glory of God.” But that’s absurd. Claiming that you speak to God and that your prayers will change the world is not humility, it’s arrogance. It’s the same thing we hear from athletes who give credit to God for their wins. They think it sounds humble but it sounds like the exact opposite — they’re saying that God likes them better than their opponents, that God favors them so much that he makes them successful on the playing field over others. It’s the opposite of humility. If you have to declare how humble you are, you aren’t being humble at all.
So why are some people attacking a prayer event in Houston and some even planning to protest? Critics argue that it violates the Establishment Clause: Texas Governor Rick Perry should not have called for a prayer event, and the event should not be Christian, even though everyone is welcome to attend. These critics are misguided and wrong on both complaints.
A very well built straw man. No one is arguing that the prayer event is a violation of the Establishment clause, they’re arguing that Gov. Perry’s involvement with it is a violation. As I’ve argued, I don’t think that’s a good legal argument and I don’t think anyone’s going to win a court case on it. But it’s hardly an incoherent argument. Jefferson and Madison would both have supported it strongly. But no one is arguing that the event itself, paid for by the American Family Association, is unconstitutional. You want to rent out a stadium and get a bunch of people together and pray, knock yourself out.
But that doesn’t mean people can’t protest against it and can’t criticize the people who put it on, including Gov. Perry. And the title of Shackleford’s article — Protesting Prayer? A Lesson on Religious Freedom — shows that he thinks such protests violate someone’s religious freedom. And that is quite ridiculous.