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Saturday, July 14, 2007

That Good Ole Idolatrous Civil Religion....

Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee's Blog From The Capital reported on Thursday that Christian protesters had disrupted the Senate's morning prayer -- being delivered for the first time in United States history by a Hindu chaplain.

See for yourself....

TPMCafe has details about the protesters with a play-by-play below....
The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.

"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately ordered them taken away — though they continued to yell at the Hindu cleric as they were headed out the door, shouting out phrases such as, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"

The cleric, Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada, was visibly nervous and uncomfortable as he then delivered the morning prayer. But to his credit, he soon regained his footing and was able to make it through in a dignified fashion.
Wiley Drake, an anti-abortion activist and former 2nd VP of the Southern Baptist Convention, released this statement:
"When not one of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate would object on the record, and in proper order, the opening of the U.S. Senate July 12, 2007, Christian observers had no choice but to speak from the gallery of the Senate. Had I been present I too would have stood and objected since none of the Senators would. I believe this was led of The Holy Spirit of God, and I also believe He is pleased with the action of His children and Ambassadors from The Kingdom of Heaven."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council added:
“No one can legitimately challenge the fact that the God America refers to in the pledge, our national motto, and other places is the monotheistic God of the Jewish and Christian faith. I seriously doubt that Americans want to change the motto, ‘In God We Trust’… to ‘In gods We Trust.’ That is essentially what the United States Senate did today.”
Ironically, Tony left out that the prayer in question addressed the Deity Supreme and "seemed both monotheistic and largely non-sectarian."

Pastor Dan of Street Prophets has an excellent response to Tony Perkins....

Actually, in addition to being rather frightening, this is absolutely incorrect. The rationale behind allowing the phrase "In God We Trust" on US currency is exactly that it does not refer to a specific deity, but is in fact a general statement of morality. Yes, our nation's religious motto is allowed because it's a meaningless platitude. Were it not, it would be an unconstitutional endorsement of a specific religion.

But let's go back to the scary part: I don't ever want to hear again that Tony Perkins is not a theocrat. Oh, he might not want a nation run by religious leaders, but he's made abundantly clear that he wants the government to be of the Christians, by the Christians, and for the Christians - and I'm pretty sure he doesn't have my stripe of Christianity in mind, either. He has said he wants supremacy for his kind of faith pretty directly here, and I don't see how it's possible to spin his way out of it.

A classic example of how divisive that idolatrous civil religion can be....

Bruce Prescott conveys my thoughts best. He writes....
Genuine prayer is an act of worship. That is why it is not appropriate for it to be sponsored by civil government. The generic ceremonial prayers of civil religion and interfaith prayers are offensive to people of many faiths who take the scriptures of their diverse faiths seriously.



Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Sooo, they're not so much interested in freedom of religion in our nation as they are in freedom of Christianity? Well, tell them to get busy re-writing that Constitution so it doesn't offend the Southern Baptist God (TM)!

9:25 AM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

The best thing would be to not have any prayers in Congress (except private ones)--as Madison urged from the beginning. But if we adopt this, now, all the non-Christian people of faith in the nation will be VERY suspicious of the timing. Sigh. It looks like we'll have to watch the trivialization of ALL faiths.

10:30 AM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...


I love it. You recite: '"Tony left out that the prayer in question addressed the Deity Supreme and "seemed both monotheistic and largely non-sectarian."'

The cleric prays to the "Deity Supreme" who is inside the "heart of the earth," inside "the life of the sky," and inside the "soul of the heavens." Yes, indeed. That was the most monotheistic, largely non-sectarian prayer I think I've ever heard. Thank you for sharing it.

With that, I am...


2:43 PM

Blogger Jim Paslay said...

big daddy,

The problem with Bruce Prescott is that his views are not the views of our founding fathers. Our founding fathers obviously believed in prayer and they were not ashamed to begin meetings with prayer.

Bruce and his ilk want this supposed wall of separation that has become like the Wall of China. I cannot find the phrase "separation of church & state" in the 1st amendment. What I do find is that Congress is the subject of the 1st amendment. "Congress shall make no laws" either establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. As an individual who is a strict constructionist, I do not believe individuals can violate the 1st amendment, only Congress can. We have turned the 1st amendment on its head and now we have absurd decisions handed down from our courts.

But that is what you get with squishy, weak-knee, pansy leaders who try to be politically correct. By the way, I believe it was Senate Majority Leader Reid that invited the Hindu chaplain. Hmmm!

3:25 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Yes Peter,

And George Washington himself prayed to "nature's God" and others referenced a Supreme Deity.

Christian prayers all around....


I'm just wondering - what do you make of the 14th amendment? How do you interpret that? Doctrine of incorporation?

Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, either. But seriously, are you insisting that church and state should mix? If so, how? State-sponsored bible readings in public schools?

I'd like to hear your philosophy, you know mine.

3:51 PM

Blogger Dan Trabue said...

"By the way, I believe it was Senate Majority Leader Reid that invited the Hindu chaplain."

Seriously, I want to know: Do y'all want freedom of religion for everyone or just the ones that you think fit within the realm of Christian?

If a Senator - who presumably has freedom of religion - asks a Hindu - who presumably has freedom of religion - to pray, why would we stop that? Are you calling for freedom of religion, but on a "Don't ask/Don't tell" sort of policy if that religion isn't mainstream Christian?

Surely you don't want to legalize only Christianity??! (I don't think anyone does, but I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from those opposed to this hindu prayer.)

6:24 PM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...


Are you suggesting that GW's prayers to "nature's God" is similar to our Hindu's "Deity Supreme"?

With that, I am...


2:35 AM

Blogger Gil Gulick said...

I am so tired of hearing that "separation of church and state" cannot be found in the constitution. The words may not be there, but the concept is. If we use the logic that the exact words have to appear, where are we left with "trinity" in the New Testament. The last time I read my Bible, the word trinity wasn't in there.

10:26 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Both seem monotheistic and largely non-sectarian...

If you narrowly define monotheistic to mean Jewish or Christian - well no sir, the Hindu Chaplain's prayer doesn't fit that bill. But neither does GW's.

Also, Hinduism is not necessarily polytheistic. To many, Hinduism is completely monotheistic. A diverse religion indeed.

Now that was one line of many from my post. If you have something to contribute concerning the entire post - (your feelings on Civil Religion, the actions of the protesters, etc...) then please contribute.

10:30 AM

Anonymous Geoff Baggett said...

Hinduism is not necessarily polytheistic?
Riiiiiight... Only in postmodernity.

3:07 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Viewing an entire religion through monolithic lens....

Don't you think it would be a mistake for any person to view any religion as one uniform, monolithic group?

Do they even offer comparative religions courses at Luther Rice and the New Southern Baptist Theological Seminary?

They did at the University of Georgia.

No postmodernity. The diversity of Hinduism clearly allow for a variety of beliefs including monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, monism and even atheism. My original statement is quite acceptable in the academy. Look up Huston Smith - one of the most preeminent comparative religion scholars in the world.

4:17 PM

Anonymous Geoff Baggett said...

Actually, I had one at each. I studied other religions quite in-depth in the amazing Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth. Thanks for asking.

And your description of Hinduism as, "...a variety of beliefs including monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, monism and even atheism," is pretty accurate. But I would submit that any "faith" that is in any way defined by polytheism is, by sheer definition, polytheistic.

Back home we say, "They believe in so much, they don't believe in anything at all."

I simply cannot fathom regarding (as you seem to) the claim of Christ to be "the way," the only way to the Father, is idolatrous. It's just the Gospel.

The people who yelled and screamed were out of line, I'll admit. In moments like these I just scream on the inside. :)

6:12 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

It's idolatrous when we mix traditional religion with national life. Over time the two become indistinguishible and we're left with a watered down worthless civil religion.

Government-sponsored prayers whether they be in the chambers of Congress or during the graduation ceremony of a public high school are two such examples. No prophetic witness to be had there....

Wiley Drake and others of his ilk may desire to impose their faith on others through any means necessary. But a coerced faith is really no faith at all. Voluntarism. For religious faith to be authentic, it must be free and cannot be coerced. One comes to Jesus Christ freely or one does not really come to Jesus Christ. One accepts the Christian faith voluntarily or not authentically.

The principle of voluntarism goes out of the window when children and even adults are forced to listen to Christians or whomever pray (and in some cases preach!). Thankfully, this is why teachers don't recite Bible verses and read government-written prayers in the classroom etc. etc....

We have bigger issues to deal with than whether Congress opens each session with an insipid prayer. But such acts of Civil Religion do trivialize and water down authentic faith - which I find in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

12:33 AM

Anonymous Monk-in-training said...

Somehow in the last couple of decades, Christians decided that we must force “Christian” values on everyone in America. That we must “take America back”. This process does not seem to be working well, at least not in creating vibrant, Gospel filled lifestyles in our political class.

I simply do not understand how forcing others to comply with “Christian” values through laws, regulation, or any type of political and economic influence creates in those needing Christ, a desire to look to Him.

I can only imagine what the world would be like, if we loved every one with the same energy that we spend vilifying those political foes we are in conflict with.

How is this Hindu minister going to think of Christians now? He will always remember them as excluders, condemners. Where is the love of Jesus?

9:49 AM

Blogger healtheland said...

"The three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America" ... excuse me, the Bible says "thou shalt not murder." And anyone who claims that life begins at birth has never seen an ultrasound. As a matter of fact, Georgia State University, an institution that you are most certainly familiar with, big daddy weave, has research going on right now studying how a child's personality develops WHILE STILL IN THE WOMB. (Apparently the pro - abortion types have not been able to shut it down yet.) Pregnant women report that they can feel their fetuses playing and having a grand old time even in the first trimester, and ultrasound proves it. You want to know what else? Most doctors are pro - life. Studies show it, but the media won't report it. Even in liberal great Britian, so few doctors are willing to perform abortions that there is a shortage, so the pro - abortion crowd is trying to get leglslation passed that will allow nurses to perform the procedure. http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/04/18/more-abortion-rights-lies-exposed-british-doctors-refusing-to-do-abortions/ and http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/most-doctors-are-pro-life/. Now the media covers this up. They only talk to the politicians who run the American Medical Association and the ideological warriors that work in our elite medical schools to give the false impression that every doctor that didn't graduate from (now - defunct) Oral Roberts University Medical School is pro - abortion. Operation Save America may be wrong in their opposition to religious freedom (which I support) but they are completely right in their opposition to murder of the unborn, and science proves it.

12:54 PM


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