Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When is a Prayer Not a Prayer?

There were big happenings in the Unicam yesterday morning. Much to Ernie Chambers' chagrin, prayers are often offered on the Legislature floor prior to the commencing the daily session. While that alone is an issue worth discussing, the issue took an entirely intriguing turn when Yesterday's guest "pray-er" was Pastor Tom Swartley from Elm Creek. Rev. Swartley opened up fairly innocuously, but after a few setnences, it was clear that the prayer was intended to be more horizontal than vertical:

The prayer offered by guest Pastor Tom Swartley of Elm Creek had a routine beginning. “Almighty God, we come humbly into your presence this morning seeking your favor.”

Six sentences in, Swartley was asking for forgiveness for “a people who have killed 47 million of my fellow Americans since the day I was born,” in reference to abortion. He prayed that legislators have a renewed sense of conscience and courage “to do what is right.”“Open our eyes to the other aspects of this 33-year-long bloody nightmare,” Swartley said later. “Open our eyes to see that we’ve killed 47 million young American taxpayers, and indeed Social Security is in crisis. Open our eyes to see that 47 million of our countrymen and women are gone — doctors, lawyers, inventors, authors, musicians and artists.”

Swartley later asked God to forgive people in the state for teaching evolution, which he described as a “religion that tells us that we are only here by chance; that we are here for no reason and human life means nothing more than any other life…”“We’ve put our children into the same category as other mammals, and we wonder why sometimes they act like animals,” he added later.

After the prayer, Rev. Swartley said "These are things I pray about in private."

Yeah, right, Tom.

I'm sure you frequently throw in statistics during your nightly request for God to overturn Roe. I'm wondering if you've ever considered making a Power Point presentation so that your time alone with God can be presented in a more organized, convincing and visually-appealing fashion. I've heard God really doles out the intercession if he's presented with pie charts.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Again, I'm sure that God was relieved at finally being informed of the future professions of aborted fetuses.

This sounds like the kid, when asked to pray at the table before dinner, humbly asking that he'll get everything he wants for Christmas, in hopes that Mom and Dad get the message.

There's a time and place to lobby, but this attempt to not-so-discreetly disguise a rare chance to lobby the entire Unicam as a prayer is fairly insulting to everyone involved, especially others from the Evangelical tradition who don't appreciate the way media-grabbing events by fringe leaders continue to perpetuate unfortunate stereotypes.

And at very worst, if he's going to desecrate a prayer by making it a tool for horizontal communication about "morality", he forgot to mention the moral responsibility of our Legislature to address the problem of poverty in our state, which is a large one.

In an interesting contrast, over 10,000 clergy have signed this letter regarding Religion and Science. At least they didn't go open up School Board meetings by reading the letter as a "prayer".


Blogger JohnnyMitchell said...

If any of the contributors can edit this to make my quote more readable, please do so.

9:45 AM  
Blogger JohnnyMitchell said...

Thanks to whoever fixed the alignment of that. Now I just need to figure out how to do that. In fact, I pray that someone will teach me to do that.

11:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home