A day of prayer, or religious pandering?

Here it comes again. On May 3, the nation will once again be subjected to the annual fiasco wherein conservative Christians utilize the apparatus of government to publicly exalt their theological beliefs, to ensure that their vociferous anti-secular views are promoted as official state doctrine. I refer, of course, to the religious pandering known as the National Day of Prayer.

As a humanist, I would not bat an eye if the nation's churches privately banded together to promote a non-governmental National Day of Prayer. If the country's evangelical leaders, Catholic bishops, and other clerics - without using the machinery of government - felt that a nationwide interfaith event encouraging prayer would be somehow beneficial, they would have my very secular blessing. Enjoy your day of prayer, folks. Knock yourselves out.

But the religious activists behind the National Day of Prayer are not content with their religious freedom. Instead, they have a compelling need to see their government (which also happens to be mine and yours) sponsor the annual prayer event and issue proclamations, preferably accompanied by grandiose ceremonies, validating their supernatural theological beliefs.

To an inattentive observer the NDOP may seem like a broadly inclusive event that pays respect to the beliefs of all theistic religions – Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, etc. – but in practice such ecumenical goals are absent. In fact, the NDOP is driven by a narrow fundamentalist Christian cartel that sees the entire affair as a means of promoting its worldview.

When we look at those behind the NDOP, we see not a broad interfaith coalition but a tight-knit roster of Religious Right figures. The NDOP Task Force readily concedes that it exists “to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families,” and it cites numerous New Testament passages to support its mission. Religious liberals who see the NDOP as benign should realize that the event's most visible backers have an underlying agenda of attacking science, rewriting history, denying rights to women, tearing down the wall of separation between church and state, and opposing LGBT equality.


Read more at Psychology Today

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