Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family’s leader, and close friend of President Bush, James Dobson is heading up the National Day of Prayer Task Force
The site claims to be “the official site of the National Day of Prayer.” According to that website:
The National Day of Prayer was created by an act of Congress and is, therefore, intended for all peoples of faith to pray to the God of their understanding.
However, our expression of that involvement is specifically limited to the Judeo-Christian heritage and those who share that conviction as expressed in the Lausanne Covenant. If peoples of other faiths wish to celebrate in their own tradition, they are welcome to do so, but we must be true to those who have supported this effort and volunteered their time to promote it. National Day of Prayer is not a function of the government and, therefore, a particular expression of it can be defined by those who choose to organize it. This is not a church/state issue.
So, let me get this straight. The day of prayer was created by an act of congress (in 1952, during the height of cold war fears of a communist, and atheist Russia; back when we added “In God We Trust” to the money and “under God” to the pledge of allegiance) and it’s limited only to those of Judeo-Christian heritage, but somehow it’s not a function of government?
Lest you Buddhists feel excluded from this National, government-enacted, but not-a-function-of-government day, you can take comfort in the fact that it’s not just limited to those of Judeo-Christian heritage. You also have to ascribe to this passage from the Lausanne Covenant:
2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE
We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
Obviously Muslims are out. So are Jews, who don’t accept the New Testament. So are Catholics who dare to claim that the Bible is the word of God but that the stories might not have happened exactly as translated (uh, I mean, written) there; that they might just be allegorical. This national day is reserved, essentially, for fundamentalist, evangelical Christians and nobody else.
Organizations such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are not made up of a bunch of activist atheists. Rather, they are run by people, many of whom are Christians, who see the danger of letting any religion take precedence over all the others that can be practiced freely in a free nation. Mrs. Dobson doesn’t care about freedom of religion. She is so confident in her beliefs that she knows that only through her, (I mean Jesus) can anyone find salvation. She’s entitled to her belief. She is not entitled to drive a wedge between Evangelical U.S. citizens and everyone else; even if the Evangelicals are enjoying (hopefully) temporary power through association with the President.
Maybe now, before the 4th of May, it’s a good time to check out AU.org and learn more about it.
After writing this, I called the number on their site, (719) 531-3379. I spoke with a person who refused to be quoted but explained that this was a “Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer” (she dropped the “Judeo” part.) That it is a 5013.C non-profit and separate from Dobson’s Focus on Family. Look at their site and tell me this isn’t a bit deceptive. “The Official Site of the National Day of Prayer” it says, not “The Official Site of the National Day of Prayer’s Christian Expression.”
The “Task Force” is not authorized by the U.S. government and they have their Christian and divisive agenda to the Congressionally authorized act all on their own. This is the difficulty with having the government become involved in religious activity for it enables organizations like these to hijack their authority and claim it for their very specific agenda.
The person with whom I spoke didn’t want to be quoted. The quote above is from their website, not her. I asked her “why not, you’re proud of what you’re doing, aren’t you?” Why would people be cagey about being quoted about what they’re doing? Is it because she knows that the subtle “Christian expression” of a national day is perhaps a bit too thinly veiled, and that they are clearly gaining some credibility for their “ministry” by riding the coat-tails of this national day?
It’s rude, divisive and deceitful. Hardly very Christian values, it seems to me.
Update: If all this get’s you down, perhaps the National Day of Slayer will make up for it.