Barry Lynn's Prayer Warriors
by Hans Zeiger
07 May 2004
with the fact that the bulk of people involved in the National Day of Prayer
actually believe in God, Lynn and his Left-wing atheist/secularist/ecumenist
allies held their own counter-events this year.
This will make Barry
Lynn even more incensed than he is now: pray for him on the National Day
of Prayer. Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State, declared war on the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 6, because
it has been taken over by the "Religious Right."
Lynn's biggest complaint with the National Day of Prayer is not that he thinks
it violates the constitution, but that "Religious Right forces are using
the National Day of Prayer as a vehicle to promote a controversial religious
and political agenda."
It just so happens that the "Religious Right" is the only significant religious
group in America that is really dedicated and interested in praying to God.
That isn't to say there aren't folks who occasionally pray to false gods
or the multi-faith/inter-faith god or themselves in various corners of the
Religious Left, but they don't tend to be the prayer warrior types.
Frustrated with the fact that the bulk of people involved in the National
Day of Prayer actually believe in God, Lynn and his Left-wing atheist/secularist/ecumenist
allies are holding their own counter-events this year. It's a fascinating
new strategy: secularists are arguing that it is wrong for government to
sponsor prayer to the God of the Religious Right, but public prayer is okay
when it is organized by the Religious Left.
Unitarians, Mainstream Baptists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, members of the
"Military Pagan Network" and other watered-down ecumenists held an "Interfaith
Day of Prayer and Reflection" on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol
Thursday to pray to the generic god. A group called Stop Theocracy in Oklahoma
Policy (STOP) planned the multi-faith reflection service as a protest of
the simultaneous "Religious Right" Day of Prayer event. "The south steps
of the state Capitol have no relation to the kingdom of God," says Bruce
Prescott, the organizer of the STOP protest.
Yet prayer to the God of the Bible is an important American tradition --
in government. Every state legislature opens its sessions in prayer,
as do both houses of Congress. Most presidents have declared days of prayer,
thanksgiving, and even fasting. President Lincoln famously called for a day
of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" in the midst of the Civil War. President
Harry Truman proclaimed an annual prayer day in 1952 following a joint resolution
by Congress. And in 1988, President Ronald Reagan established the first Thursday
of May as the official National Day of Prayer.
None of that mattered after Barry Lynn's web surfers discovered a link to
the National Day of Prayer on the Florida Juvenile Justice Department website
and demanded the link removed. The link was promptly deleted last week. "Florida
has no business promoting prayer events for the National Day of Prayer on
any of its official Web sites, any more than it should be promoting an atheist
Maybe there's some inconsistency on the Left, but it does seem that atheists
justify their own events being sponsored on public property. Atheists in
Alabama are demanding state sponsorship for their protest of the National
Day of Prayer, just yards from the Alabama judicial building where a monument
of the Ten Commandments was ordered removed by a federal judge last summer.
When the atheists sought access to indoor state facilities for their rally
in case of rain, they went to Rep. Jay Love for sponsorship. Love refused,
prompting Larry Darby of the Atheist Law Center to curse Love, accusing him
of unfair treatment and calling him an "idiot" in newspapers.
Some elected officials are going along with the wave of secularism. The city
council of Belvidere, New Jersey refused to pass a late April resolution
in support of the National Day of Prayer after the town attorney and Mayor
Charlie Liegel suggested that such a resolution would violate the separation
of church and state. "I don't think government has the right to do something
like this," said city council member Ben Ritter.
Even a Catholic priest was quoted in a Florida newspaper in opposition to
the National Day of Prayer. Father Phil Egitto of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic
Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, refuses to participate in his local National
Day of Prayer celebration because he considers it "extremely offensive" to
Jews, Muslims, and other religious minorities. Egitto is disappointed that
the National Day of Prayer looks more like a "fundamentalist rally" than
a hippie love fest.
But consider this, Father Egitto: the significant difference between the
kumbaya sessions and interfaith vigils and atheist protests of the Religious
Left and the Bible studies and prayer circles of the Religious Right is that
our God is real. Millions of God-fearing, Bible-believing Americans will
be praying on Thursday; information is at www.nationaldayofprayer.org. Barry
Lynn's godless America doesn't stand a chance against one nation under God.
Hans Zeiger is a Seattle Times
columnist and conservative activist. He is president of the Scout Honor Coalition
and a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
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