Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama prays in private.

Good job, Mr. President.

It seems President Obama has a better grasp of faith than his predecessors.

From CNN:
For the past eight years, the White House recognized the National Day of Prayer with a service in the East Room, but this year, President Obama decided against holding a public ceremony.

President Bush marked the National Day of Prayer with a service at the White House.

"Prayer is something that the president does everyday," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday, noting that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day, as many administrations in the past have done.


Here are Jesus' words, straight out of the Bible, regarding prayer (contextually, this is the same passage that gives the Lord's prayer):

Matthew Chapter 6:5-6
"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get.
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."

I think Obama nailed this.

Those in an uproar over Obama not praying publicly, two things:

1. He's not supposed to. Jesus' words are right above, in case you missed it. Get over it.

2. He's not supposed to. Obama is part of the State. Separation of Church and State. Get over it.

15 comments:

bluepitbull said...

That is a mistranslation about the Pharisees praying in public.

Also, I don't think obama has come out with a stance on this, relying on people, like you, to do it for him.

Hope you feel better giving him an excuse.

James' Muse said...

It isn't a mistranslation at all.

Also, Politicians coming out and praying in order to appease the religious right, thereby making their policies "okay" is pretty close to the Pharisees.

I heard, so often, that because Bush was a Christian and prayed a lot, that made Iraq "just" and righteous. Not true. Just because a president prays publicly (or doesn't) doesn't make their policies right (or wrong). They are mutually exclusive.

Obama not praying publicly is him doing the right thing. His faith is his.

And my point in the "get over it" is this:

With all of the legitimate criticisms of President Obama (and there are many) this is what they are upset about? This is the hill they want to die on?

James' Muse said...

Also, I would challenge anyone to find a passage instructing leaders to pray in public.

KIND AND GENTLE101 said...

I'm with you James. I always said never trust anyone that makes a point of religious exhibitionism.

Dave Miller said...

Nice post James. You saw the typical response from the gang at Pasadena Conservative.

Blue, what about that translation is incorrect? Is the essence not what the writer was trying to convey?

dmarks said...

#1 can be disputed theologically. You can go either way.

But as for #2, "2. He's not supposed to. Obama is part of the State. Separation of Church and State. Get over it."

For one thing, the President is protected by the First Amendment. There is no "not supposed to" when it comes to freedom of expression, which includes praying. For another, it has nothing to do with "Separation of church and state". Whether or not anyone prays is a different issue than the church someone may or may not belong to. And even if it were, and "separation of church and state" were in the Constitution (and it is not), it is his decision to pray, and his church is not commanding him to.

"I heard, so often, that because Bush was a Christian and prayed a lot, that made Iraq "just" and righteous. Not true"

Fighting back against the terrorists, even in Iraq, was just and reasonable. Regardless of prayers.

You are quite right that his faith is his, and no church ever has forced any President to pray in public.

Right Is Right said...

Oh please, everything this poor excuse for a Man does is calculated.

James' Muse said...

Dmarks: #1 is right on theologically. Demanding that the President pray in public is nothing more than a political exercise, and would be quite pharasaical.

#2: I'm not saying he can't go to the National Day of Prayer, but the religious right is in essence demanding that he show and pray during these things. They are saying he is supposed to, and I'm saying not that he isn't supposed to, but that he is not required to due to the separation of church and state.

On Iraq: A) Pre-emptive war was not "fighting back against the terrorists." I supported the Afghanistan war because it was.
B) My point is that those that said that we should listen to President Bush about Iraq merely because he prayed about it are nothing more than Christian Jihadists.

Right is Right: You have no proof, and your bias blinds you.

KrisEveland said...

This isn't the first time I've seen this verse taken out of context and surely won't be the last. Jesus didn't mean we shouldn't pray in public as has already been commented here, he simply meant you shouldn't make a show of yourself because of your pride and desire to be looked at favorably.

I for one don't care that he isn't doing it this year publicly because he has made it quite clear that faith isn't a big part of his life. So on this point I agree with you because he would be as one of the hypocrites if he made a big show of pretending to be a Christian by pandering to us.

As to the weak separation of church and state excuse, you are suggesting that no public official can make a public display of their faith? That is seriously weak.

James' Muse said...

Kris,

As noted in my comments, the separation of Church and State means that he isn't required to. The Religious Right is in an uproar that Obama didn't pray publicly, which according the separation of Church and State he really doesn't need to.

This verse is not taken out of context. Politicians praying publicly, more often than not, are only doing so to further their political agenda, which is much like the Pharisees were doing in Jesus' day. I applaud Obama's decision to not mix his politics with his faith like his predecessor did.

Susannah said...

Elitist know-it-all-intellectualism strikes again. (Sorry, James. Prove me wrong & I'll admit I was wrong.)

Funny that you folks who imagine yourselves to have mastered the mysteries of faith (or are above it altogether) feel free to chastise others with scripture, wielding it as a crop to keep people in line. You folks also seem to be the ones with blog labels such as “religious ignorance,” further elevating yourselves over us doltish, unsophisticated plebes. Now see, I (a Master’s level educated, Licensed mental health professional, stay-at-home mother) get really annoyed with that attitude. Perhaps you don’t truly hold that bias, James, but you did visit my blog specifically to chastise me with Matt. 6:5-6.

So, let’s recap our conversation there. Or better yet, why don’t I reiterate my part, just for fun!? (“quotations”--James')

"you are demanding that our leader bring his faith public"
Not exactly. I am demanding that our National Leader at least be in attendance at an important National Observance in the nation's Capital, or at least send a darned impressive representative.

"That would be quite pharisaical" No, in fact, it would not. Mr. O would have served in a leadership capacity (modeling that faith/prayer is important to our nation, & important to observe), not in a religious capacity.

Again: in Matthew, Jesus was not speaking to the ACT of praying in public so much as the ATTITUDE of humility before God. Using your logic, nobody should bother to have invocations @ Inaugurations, go to a Billy Graham crusade or ever even go to worship, for that matter.

James says, “Politicians praying publicly, more often than not, are only doing so to further their political agenda, which is much like the Pharisees were doing in Jesus' day.” Perhaps so in some cases, but I would argue NDoP is an exercise in LEADERSHIP for reasons articulated above. I'm not so cynical to think that some people (a lot) still look to political figures for leadership/models of citizenship, even in these dark political times.

Moving on… I’ll not even address separation of church & state, b/c the concept has no application to this argument.

Truth101 says, “I always said never trust anyone that makes a point of religious exhibitionism.” Precisely what Jesus was saying in Matthew, imo. So good! We're together here; and NDoP is not one of those instances. A leader being present at a national observance is not equivalent to 'religious exhibitionism.' It's leadership.

James, “This verse is not taken out of context.” Yes, friend, actually it is.

Dave, “Blue, what about that translation is incorrect?” It’s not the translation that’s incorrect Dave, it’s the interpretation. Again, as I understand Matt. 6:5-6 within the full Council of the Word (not 2 verses as wielded above), Jesus is addressing hypocrisy; Jewish leaders of the day who wanted to be seen as 'holy' would 'perform' public prayer in order to receive attention. Their motive was self-righteousness.

And Dave, “Is the essence not what the writer was trying to convey?” It depends on which writer you’re talking about; Matthew or our blogger friend. Jesus was concerned w/ motive, not the act of praying in public. He was teaching, as I understand it, that the essence of prayer is not public flare, but intimate communication w/ God. There IS a place for public prayer, but praying ONLY where others will see you indicates an attitude of the heart that is not focused on God.

Lastly, James says @ my blog that NdoP “came about during the height of McArthyism as an answer to the 'godless commies'."

And he also applauds Mr. O here, “Obama not praying publicly is him doing the right thing. His faith is his.”

On this we agree, James. He is being true to his faith, alright.
‘Godless Commies' --- Yes, I believe that was precisely my point.

James' Muse said...

Susannah,

I don't pretend to know all the mysteries of our faith, but I did learn how to do a responsible exegesis of scripture. So, on the context of the passage: the entire passage is instructing his disciple to not be like the pharisees, who used their faith for political gain. In that era, the Jewish population had a few major political entitities in response to being conquered by Rome:

The Zealots: Basically, the "freedom fighters" of the Jews. They were bordering on terrorists, not afraid to kill themselves or others, including civilians, in pursuit of freedom from Rome.

The Sadducees: They believed that freedom lay in following God's commandments, but they didn't believe in an afterlife. They believed that following YHWH was part of being Jewish and a small way to defy Rome.

The Pharisees: They believed that there was an afterlife, and in order to please YHWH they had to follow a bunch of rules and be holier than those around them.

There were other groups, but these were the main three.

All were political groups using religion to further certain agendas.

Now on to the 1950's: McArthyism was a kneejerk reaction to communism. The leaders then believed that communism would take over the world and destroy it. As a kneejerk reaction to the leftist movement, the US shifted to the right and basically did the opposite extreme of what we saw in communism. Communist countries weren't just secular, they were atheistic regimes that outlawed religion in any form. So what do we, a secular state (with religious ties) do? We break the "separation of church and state" and label anyone who believes in secularism or atheism as a "commie" and institute a "National Day of Prayer" to prove that we are the polar opposite of the "evil" commies.

It was politically motivated, not out of a true repentance, much like the Pharisees were in those days.

Another thing, Susannah. I did not miss your implication of Obama being a "god-less commie." On this, you are way off, and I do need to call you on it.

You should know, as educated as you are, that there is a huge difference between nationalization of a few entities, socialism, and communism.

Remember, the nationalization of GM and the banks began under George W. Bush. Obama continued it. Long term he has shown no indication whatsoever of trying to overturn term limits and become a dictator for life, nor has he made any move whatsoever to outlaw personal or private property, nor has he made any move to outlaw religion. These are aspects of communism that we are not seeing at all and anyone who truly believes that semi-nationalization and communism are the same things is deluded and extremely misinformed.

James' Muse said...

Also, you failed to show me any passage whatsoever asking for leaders to publicly pray.

Susannah said...

Alrighty.

"I don't pretend to know all the mysteries of our faith..." I really didn't think so, but trying to smack me around w/ scripture was rude, James.

I appreciate the lesson on who's-who-of-the-New-Testament (really, it is interesting), but it doesn't change anything I said prior.

"Another thing, Susannah. I did not miss your implication of Obama being a "god-less commie." On this, you are way off, and I do need to call you on it." Feel better? :) It wasn't an implication. My opinion holds.

Until Mr. O/Congress ceases the process of nationalizing everything (which I realize started w/ Bush/Congress - MUCH to my dismay), & ceases using language & promoting issues which fashions GOVERNMENT into The Breast from which we all must suckle, I will continue to hold said opinion. It's a very, very slippery slope these people are treading down.

I don't believe Mr. O is, in fact, a communist/socialist leader, b/c the current gov't structure doesn't allow it. Rather, from what I've heard/seen of him, his thinking is VERY much in line w/ that kind of ideology.

"The leaders then believed that communism would take over the world and destroy it. As a kneejerk reaction to the leftist movement, the US shifted to the right and basically did the opposite extreme of what we saw in communism." And they were right to do so. My own mother was told in the 50's that her grandchildren - my children - would live under communist rule. It is a real threat, esp. w/ someone like BO in office & this Congress.

"Also, you failed to show me any passage whatsoever asking for leaders to publicly pray." And I'm not going to. ;)

(I never said BO was REQUIRED to do this & certainly not required by scripture. My point was that he should have - as our National Leader - been involved in some way.)

Susannah said...

James~ Thanks for coming by my blog today. I'll respond when I've got time.

Just want you to know I'm not impressed w/ your friends over @ the other blog - you know the one. Those guys are really, really creepy.

I went back & read further comments (noticed they deleted my goodbye one). I shouldn't have. These guys are your friends, your compatriots? You've read the last things FOGG said about me...These folks are a little loopy, James.

I'm just sayin'.

It's nice to come to a blog that I know has differing views & not be vilified, excoriated, & called nasty names (you saw it - nice) no matter what words I utter.