Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, announced his intention to run for President of the United States. His overt religious views are a big concern. He recently hosted a prayer event in Houston’s Reliant Stadium that included major religious right groups like the American Family Association, people like Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and others. He has called on prayer to solve Texas’ drought and also for our current nationwide economic problems. It hasn’t worked yet. Continue reading →
It’s really hard for some religious believers to understand why the separation of church and state is really important. In an effort to advance the cause in support of strong separation I have come up with a good analogy to explain it. I call it “The Sports Analogy”. Continue reading →
President Obama gave a speech on the BP Oil spill tonight. While I heard some good things, the end of the speech however didn’t thrill me. How many times do we need to say that praying won’t stop the leak or clean up the Gulf?
Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.
The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.
And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”
The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.
Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
It seems that according to a new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, 21% of American atheists believe in God or a universal spirit, 12% believe in heaven and 10% pray at least once a week. I followed the link to the report and sure enough that is what their survey says. Being that atheists make up approximately 10% of the population – the survey results are pretty troublesome.
The Post posed the question to their “On Faith” panel for an explanation.
While most of the panel reveled in the contradiction of the results, with most saying basically “we told you so”, Susan Jacoby had the best response:
That one out of five Americans who identify themselves as atheists also say that they believe in God or a “universal spirit” and that one out of ten pray at least once a week can lead to only one conclusion. These people don’t know that an atheist is, by definition, someone who does not believe in God or in the supernatural. To say that you’re an atheist who believes in God and prays is the equivalent of saying that you’re a vegetarian who loves to scarf down barbecued ribs and T-bone steak. Or a Christian who rejects the teachings of the New Testament. Or a religiously observant Jew who also believes that Jesus was the Messiah. Or a Muslim who believes that Jesus was God.
I think that the explanation for these seemingly contradictory findings lies in a phenomenon I discuss at length in my recent book, The Age of American Unreason . Americans as a people have become supremely ignorant about and indifferent to the specific meanings of words, and they are equally confused about important historical distinctions.This is a serious cultural disease throughout our nation. A majority of Americans, in what is supposedly the most religious nation in the developed world, cannot name the four Gospels or identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible. Why shouldn’t some American atheists be as ignorant about the meaning of atheism as many religious Americans are about religion?
Last week local news around here reported on a controversy in Delaware county. It seems the county commissioners have been opening their meetings with a Christian specific prayer.
Here is a report on the dispute. As you watch, it try and figure out who is not understanding the “spirit” or history of the 1st amendment:
It seems that Delaware County Prosecutor David Yost is the one not understanding what separation of church and state means. It doesn’t mean “scrubbing the name God from every inch of the public arena” and doesn’t only mean the government can’t establish a state religion.
Separation of church and state means government neutrality in religious matters. Saying a prayer to Jesus is not being neutral.
The 1st amendment only applies to actions by the government NOT about all expressions in public. If the commissioners want to say a prayer they can, but should do it outside their duties as commissioners. They can gather “round the pole” say their prayer then enter the meeting room and start the meeting.
Such actions may not be illegal as such but it tells me that OUR government believes that Christian adherents are more valuable, and all others are less valuable, members of the political community.
Is that really the message we want OUR government to support – that one segment of people is more valuable than all others?
If a public servant can’t see or understand the harm they are doing then I have to question their judgement in all other areas.
In my last post I mentioned the ignorant comments made by Representative Bill Sali (R-Idaho) concerning Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate and a Muslim member of the House of Representatives.
In his comments he said:
“We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers,” asserts Sali.
Well it seems some members of the Founding Fathers needed to respond.
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!
John Adams – Letter to Thomas Jefferson
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will avail themselves for their own purposes.
Thomas Jefferson – Letter to Alexander von Humboldt December 6, 1813
The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
James Madison – Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, December 3, 1821
Those three men would know better than Bill Sali what the Constitution means as they helped create it. It shows how ignorant Sali’s comments were.