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Note to regular readers: I will resume my End of the Age review of the Olivet Discourse as the Lord leads. Today I’m off on a more topical issue.
The National Day of Prayer
In 1952 Congress, at the request of Billy Graham, established the National Day of Prayer where people were asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.” In 1988, they set the first Thursday in May as “the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray.”
On April 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional on this basis:
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.
“In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray,” Crabb wrote.
In her ruling, she stated that the issue would not go into effect until it has been through the appeals process, and Obama dutifully issued his proclamation.
My first response to all the backlash Crabb’s ruling generated was, “So what?” Do we really need – or want – Obama (or Bush or Clinton or ?) to tell us when and what to pray? Would the lack of a presidential proclamation prevent us from praying?
When I read Crabb’s reasoning, I tended to agree with her. If the President can call us to pray on a particular day, hosting special events for that purpose, could they not also try to direct us to non-biblical acts? This, in fact, is already being attempted, as the New Apostolic Reformation of C. Peter Wagner joined forces with the Christian Right in what was dubbed “A Cry to God: May Day 2010” at the Lincoln Memorial. As Herescope documented, this was less than biblical:
One of the most amazing aspects of the May Day event, planned in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1, 2010, is its Official Program stating the “Prayers of Repentance for the Seven Mountains of Culture.” Many good-intentioned believers are being led into this event because they support its conservative political ideologies and moral overtones. They support Israel and they are against abortion. But do these folks also support the Seven Mountains of Culture Mandate? And are they fully in agreement with the esoteric theology of these spiritual warfare prayers and the Dominionist goals of the NAR leaders of the May Day event?
I’d encourage you to read that article and follow the links it contains, as well as this article and this one. There is a long-planned co-opting of Christianity being implemented, and discernment is required.
All of this has led me to reflect on the larger issue of America as
A Christian Nation
“America was birthed in prayer and founded on the Bible,” said Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, on Thursday.
A solemn mood prevailed at this year’s National Day of Prayer, as speaker after speaker lamented what they perceive as an attack on our Christian Nation, but … does it really matter? Can any man-made law make us Christian or prevent us from being Christian? Can any nation actually be Christian?
Before everybody gets in a dither, let me state that I agree with Dobson’s statement. I’ve learned a lot from my friend Hercules Mulligan, and I agree that, by and large, the founders of America were Christian and attempted to base our government on God’s law. But that does not make us a Christian nation.
Jesus told Pilate this:
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)
Nowhere in scripture did Jesus attempt to change the worldly governments. Nowhere in scripture did Jesus tell his disciples to change the worldly governments. In fact, history has shown that since Constantine tried to establish the first “Christian nation,” nothing but disaster has resulted. Every government that has tried to enforce Christian principles wound up killing in Jesus’ name and desecrating His name – and America is no exception.
A Young Soldier
Realnews.com, in a follow-up to the Wikileak Collateral Murder video (which has over 6 million views to date), has posted Part 1 of an interview with Josh Stieber. Go here to watch the whole interview or read the transcript.
Josh Stieber enlisted in the army after graduating high school. He was deployed to Baghdad from Feb 07- Apr 08 with the military company shown on the ground in the Collater Murder video. Upon his return from Iraq, Josh was granted conscientious objector status.
So who is this young man? What was he thinking when he enlisted? Here’s part of the interview.
STIEBER: I grew up very religiously and very patriotic, in a selective sense that, you know, I only wanted to hear things that I wanted to hear and only things that I thought would make my country look better and make my beliefs look better, and I wasn’t very interested in understanding other perspectives. And the vision I had of my country was that, you know, we were going all throughout the world doing, you know, all this great stuff and helping people in need. And, you know, after 9/11 I was obviously affected by that and wanted to protect the people that I cared about, and, from everyone I trusted, was told that the military would be a good way to do that, and then was also told, you know, there’s this country Iraq that’s getting oppressed by this horrible dictator who’s also a threat to us, and if we can get rid of him, not only will we be keeping ourselves safe, but we’ll also be helping this other country in the process.
JAY: How interwoven were your beliefs in America and what America stands for and your religious beliefs?
STIEBER: They were pretty closely intertwined. I went to a religious high school. And one example is, in a government class that I was in at this religious high school, we read a book called The Faith of George W. Bush. And people like that were held up as, you know, these—these are people that are fighting for God’s will here on Earth. So religion was very interwoven with a sense of nationalism.
So what happened to change his beliefs?
JAY: So you go to Iraq. You join, you go through boot camp, and you’re sent to Iraq, and you’re still more or less the same mindset. Tell us a little bit about boot camp and the kind of training that takes place to prepare you for war. I mean, your religious training is supposed to be about love thy neighbor, and then you’re sent to war. So how do they get you ready for that?
STIEBER: Yeah, I guess that’s where I started to see, maybe, some of these contradictions, just by the kinds of things that we did on a regular basis in basic training, whether it was the cadences that we sang as we were marching around, some that even joked about killing women and children.
JAY: Like what?
STIEBER: One that stands out in my mind is—it goes,
“I went down to the market where all the women shop
I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop
I went down to the park where all the children play
I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.”
JAY: That’s as you’re marching.
JAY: So this is, like, an authorized chant, you could say.
STIEBER: Yeah. I mean, the training, they focus on the physical aspect, or, you know, they say that’s the challenging part, but then they slip all these psychological things in along with it.
JAY: Well, that’s got to be shocking for you to hear that the first time.
STIEBER: Yeah. And so I started writing home to religious leaders at my church, saying what I’m being asked to do doesn’t really line up with, you know, all these religious beliefs I had. And I would get letters back with explanations that I needed to have more faith in God, or this is just how the military works.
JAY: They would write back and defend a chant like that, that it’s okay to go down where the kids are playing and start to spray? They would defend that?
STIEBER: They would either defend it or say that ends justify the means or say, you know, maybe you personally don’t say chants like that and just march silently, but you still go along with the whole system.
If these are the words taught by a “Christian Nation,” it’s no wonder the Muslims hate America. And it’s no wonder that they hate Jesus.
I’ve taken some liberties with the following scripture, but based on Matthew 5:43-48 when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, I don’t think He will object.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love for Muslims,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love for Muslims,
I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love for Muslims,
it profits me nothing.
Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7)