Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Cry for National Day of Prayer

Some might call him "Big Tex" or by some such catch phrase, but to most he is not big and does not represent Texas. Not the real Texas, even if he did come from Paint Rock in west Texas.

I refer to Texas Governor Rick Perry. The longest lasting governor ever for the Lone Star State is now turning to religion in his politics. He is calling for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation, on Aug. 6. The date the bomb fell on Japan. Don't know if there is any connection with that 1945 event or not.

Bro. Perry, like numerous conservative Christians of the far-right, likes to quote the founding fathers and how they were such dedicated conservative Christian leaders. For example Perry uses a quote from Benjamin Franklin in which old Ben implored the framers to pray for guidance. The irreverent Old Ben did say lots of things, but his urging prayer at the Constitutional Convention to open with prayer never happened.

H.W. Brands, University of Texas historian, in his Pulitzer Prize finalist book ("The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin") says Franklin ask for prayer was a "psychological move more than anything else." According to Patricia Kilday Hart in the San Antonio Express-News, "It was mostly getting people like Alex Hamilton to admit there might be a higher intelligence than their own." If there were too many prayers going around it might frighten the public into believing they were desperate. "So the idea was quietly shelved," writes Isaacson.

Always get the context, not just the loose phrase that pleases you when you expound of the founding fathers. No one is missing the boat (on purpose) than self-proclaimed "historian" David Barton, the Aledo, TX, Republican activist and founder of WallBuilders, another of those pro-family groups who think America is going to the dogs.

For Perry to embrace Barton and his mis-guided views on history is to show once again that he is not the one to be caling for prayer. He is inviting all the governors of all America. Whose job is it to pray, anyway?

Hart also recounts how other presidents turned down appeals for national prayer. In the cholera epidemic in the 1830s, a group of Protestant ministers appealed to Andrew Jackson for a National Day of Prayer. Jackson did not see any reference to prayer in the Constitution so he told them to go back to their congregations and pray themselves. Why did he tell them that: It wasn't his job.

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