The first line of this Star-T piece on the dispute over National Day of Prayer leaves no doubt as to where the reporter’s sympathies lie: “Federal Judge Barbara Crabb may wear a black robe and wield a gavel, but she isn’t more powerful than prayer.”

Um, actually, Crabb may turn out to be more powerful than prayer – if the Supreme Court agrees with her that National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. Some legal experts say she makes a sound, sober case that this annual national event serves no broader public purpose and is perilously close to an establishment of religion.

Many believers think that praying at public events – outside of a church service – is an annoying demonstration of vanity that has more to do with the faithful looking pious than with the higher power they’re trying to contact. Meanwhile, conservatives crow about all the profanity and sexual explicitness in pop culture, but they manage to miss the rampant spiritual exhibitionism of people who shoehorn the words “God” and “Jesus” into every possible exchange. (You could hawk a whole late-night DVD series called Evangelicals Gone Wild! with all the faith-flashing those folks do). And don’t get me started on pre-game prayers that ask God to watch over your high school’s loser football team — or, for that matter, the NFL team you’ve signed a multi-million dollar contract to play for.


The New Testament is filled with deliberately vague quotes and parables that’re misused for all kinds of political purposes. One teaching, however, is crystal clear: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” None other than J.C. himself made that judgment. Why do so many of his followers ignore it?


  1. Of course, the judge said absolutely nothing about the merits of prayer, or a national day for prayer, or anything else except the propriety of the federal government calling for one.
    The righteous, and the self-righteous, will naturally howl about activist judges and atheists imposing their (non)beliefs, etc., but they will deliberately miss the point. The same yahoos who squall about big government and government control nonetheless are perfectly happy to have that same government tell everyone to say a (Christian) prayer. Out loud. In public.
    And the beat goes on.

  2. @Roy

    “… have that same government tell everyone to say a (Christian) prayer. Out loud. In public.”

    From wiki: “…designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”.

    There’s a small difference, but I get your point, congress seems to be endorsing religion – but are they endorsing one religion over another? Are they “directing the religious exercises of … constituents.”?

    It appears to be s suggestion, borne of tradition, with no compulsion to comply.

    When people use the term “big government”, they generally mean a government that compels you to do something though incentive or punishment . Those elements aren’t present in this proclomation.

    However, Moova’s link leads with this:

    “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…”

    As strong as that statement is, there still is no federal compulsion to follow through – certainly for other nations.

  3. Our constitution gives us the:
    1. Freedom of religion.
    2. Freedom of speech.

    National day of prayer does not specify which God, deity, or object for prayer.

    If we remove freedom of religion and freedom of speech how great will we be?

  4. No substantive reply from Mr. Fowler? Hmmmm, let’s go further then.

    Some of the translations of the biblical verse sited above by Fowler use the word “closet” instead of “room” or “inner room.” Hence, he seems to be saying Christians should stay “in the closet” instead of praying in the “exhibitionist” manner he suspects … BTW, isn’t this profiling / stereotyping? And … does he not wonder if other groups should refrain from publicly “acting out” in their particular extravagant and garish manner?

    Christ also said (paraphrasing) – where there are two or three of you gathered in my name, there am I. Does Fowler believe that say …. a hundred Christians should cram themselves into a closet? Now look … many of Christ’s sayings seem contradictory, but more really when this happens, one can take the view that they are akin to the paradoxes one sees in quantum physics. Those paradoxes invite one to mystery, contemplation…. meditation.

    Fowler’s beef seems to be that he has a problem with “the free exercise thereof” part of the constitution when it comes to religion. O’Seat and Oliver’s points above are strictly correct concerning the lack of establishment by government.

    But – seemingly to Fowler’s consternation – the constitution does not speak to the “style” in which people exercise their freedoms. It is a good thing that it does not.