Thursday, May 03, 2007


“Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be -
Hairy Thunderer, or Cosmic Muffin.”

- from National Lampoon, Deteriorata (1972)

From Wikipedia:
On April 17, 1952, President Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law. It was in 1972 that the National Prayer Committee was formed. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force, with the intended purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer...

The intention of the National Day of Prayer was always that it would be a day when members of all faiths could pray together in their own way. It would involve Christians, Jews, Muslims, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Aboriginals, Zoroastrians, and all others, of any faith or of no organized religion, who wished to participate.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a non-governmental organization created by the National Prayer Committee to help coordinate events on National Day of Prayer. Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they work out of facilities from Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization. Shirley Dobson (wife of prominent evangelical and Focus on the Family founder, James Dobson) is currently at the head of the Task Force.

The Task Force’s charter is tolerant of all religions, although it does not allow members of all religions to participate equally. [emphasis mine.] The Task force’s website says in their FAQ section: “Americans of all faiths are encouraged to participate in the [National Day of Prayer] according to their own traditions. However, the [National Day of Prayer] Task Force [only] provides promotional materials and sponsors several events in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition.” The application for volunteer coordinators with the Task Force lists the following as a primary qualification, “Commitment to Christ. A volunteer must be an evangelical Christian who has a personal relationship with Christ. I acknowledge that I am working for the Lord Jesus Christ and the furthering of His Work on earth and agree to perform my work with the highest standard of Christian faith.”
OK, so some religions are more equal than others. That’s OK: We Heebs are used to that.

But the idea of a National Day of Prayer seems a little bit forced to me. As if the folks who invented it were pandering to the populace. Ya think?

People of faith don’t need a National Day of Prayer. Prayer is part of their daily lives, not something that needs to be shoved in on an ad hoc basis. And if prayer is not part of your daily life, one lousy day a year won’t make it so. Just ask the Yom Kippur Jews or the Easter Christians.

But there is something appealing about the idea of everybody praying en masse to their Respective Deities. Whether you invoke the teachings of Lao Tzu or the Buddha, whether you pray to Allah, Jesus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whether you count the omer or dance around a pole to celebrate Beltane, you are expressing faith in something greater than matter how ridiculous it is upon close examination.

And what you believe doesn’t really matter anyway. What you do with those beliefs: that’s what matters. Do you build schools and hospitals? Do you try to find a cure for cancer? Do you send suicide bombers into pizza parlors? Actions speak far louder than words, and there are some actions that would cause a God to weep.

But enough of this. It’s the National Day of Prayer, and time’s a-wastin’! Have you davened today?

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