National day of Magical Thinking

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Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State reminds us that "It is simply not the business of government to advise when, if and how people pray:"

America does not need an official, government-mandated "National Day of Prayer." Religious individuals who feel strongly about the country are free to pray for it at any time. They do not need to be directed or encouraged by government.

Government should refrain from sponsoring religious worship. It would be best if the National Day of Prayer were ended entirely. If that is not possible, the event, at the very least, should be pried free from the suffocating grasp of the Religious Right.

The Moonie Times is upset that Obama is "distancing himself" from the NDoP rituals, and Shirley Dobson of the National Day of Prayer Committee is "disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration." She's not alone:

"For those of us who have our doubts about Obama's faith, no, we did not expect him to have the service," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. "But as president, he should put his own lack of faith aside and live up to the office."

Delusional much? Obama a) issued a pro-NDoP proclamation and b) prayed. That is more than enough to "live up to the office" of the president, which has no requirement of either faith or observation. Obama hosed a Passover Seder last month, a White House first, but the wingnuts are pissy because Obama didn't ask to attend the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Interestingly, as the Moonie Times observes, Obama:

...would not have been allowed to speak because of a 2004 directive from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saying that public figures who have taken positions opposing Catholic doctrine should not be publicly honored.

Steve Benen notes at Washington Monthly that "There's no need for the White House to host a special event, organized by evangelical activists, promoting an exclusive and unnecessary 'holiday' encouraging worship" and quotes CWA's Wright as complaining that "President Obama may have problems believing in the Christian faith, he should at least honor the traditions and foundation of our country." Benen replies:

First, the president doesn't have a problem "believing in the Christian faith," and these ridiculous attacks only make the religious right appear more sleazy. Second, if we're going to honor "the traditions and foundation of our country," I'd remind the religious right that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison specifically opposed government-endorsed prayer days.

Over at Balloon Juice, John Cole snarkily mocks Christianists' paranoid ignorance

"Suck it, wingnuts. Maybe if you promise to hold the event facing Mecca next year, Obama will show up."

but I'll go with Thomas Jefferson for my Quote of the Day:

"Fasting & prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the Constitution has deposited it." (letter to Rev Millar, 23 January 1808)

Freethinkers can celebrate the National Day of Reason; those of a particularly sarcastic bent may wish to start a National Day of Magical Thinking instead.


update (5/8 @ 8:51am):
Steve Benen sets the record straight in this postscript, asking "So, what's the problem?"

Unlike George W. Bush, Obama didn't open up the White House to the self-appointed National Day of Prayer Task Force, run by religious right activists, which has hosted exclusive events for the last eight years.

This has led a variety of conservatives to make a variety of demonstrably false claims.

After debunking five of their falsities, he concludes:

Honestly, I'm not sure which is more annoying -- the conservatives' prayer-related dishonesty or their prayer-related whining.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 7, 2009 11:07 PM.

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