I’m not a fan of the National Day of Prayer.
Not that I oppose prayer, but the day is an occasion to place the nation in a sacred spotlight, linking God and America in a way that ends up whitewashing the character of the nation. Phrases like “one nation beneath God” and “the freedom of religion” and “in God we trust” inevitably obtain their way into the celebrations. Words of scripture are often heard but commonly abused for the objective of the adoration of America.
The public prayers supplied at National Day of Prayer celebrations are hardly ever prayers for the victims of misguided policies of the nation. Prayers are seldom heard for refugees turned away at the southern border, for these tortured and oppressed by nations regarded as “friends” to the U.S., or for these killed and maimed by the endless American wars largely fought for financial interests. Prayers for national repentance — except for these by the Religious Correct that reference abortion — have a tendency to be missing.
The National Day of Prayer is America-centric. Even though individuals of a wide variety of faiths may perhaps come with each other, the umbrella beneath which they huddle is America, not God.
The religion of American nationalism is at play, often subtly, frequently blatantly, but invariably. If the crowds are asked to join voices to sing songs or to recite words, these will not be lyrics or phrases that can equally be uttered by faith-filled peoples of each nation, but only by Americans. The “unity” of the National Day of Prayer does not involve all individuals of faith but only all individuals who have faith in America.
This year, the president of the United States ensured that the National Day of Prayer was not only America-centric but Trump-centric.
In Trump’s speech for the occasion, he created outrageously false, self-glorifying claims. Apparently, prior to he was elected, God was going down for the count! Persons couldn’t even openly say the word “God.” He declared that “people are so proud to be employing that stunning word ‘God.’ And they’re employing the word ‘God’ once more, and they’re not hiding from it. And they’re not becoming told to take it down, and they’re not saying, ‘We cannot honor God.’ In God, we trust. So critical.”
Trump also took the chance on the National Day of Prayer to claim he is the president who saved Christmas! He claimed that prior to he took workplace “people have been not permitted or in some instances, foolishly ashamed to be employing in shops ‘Merry Christmas, Content Christmas.’” But now — rejoice! — these words can once more be heard alternatively of the lame words, “Happy holidays!” He continued: “Take a appear at your shops these days. It is all ‘Merry Christmas’ once more. They’re proud of it. I constantly mentioned, ‘You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” once more.’ And that is what occurred.”
Trump also claimed he gave religious organizations freedom of speech they previously didn’t have. Particularly, he mentioned he place an finish to the Johnson amendment, a federal law that restricts homes of worship, charitable nonprofits, and private foundations from officially endorsing, opposing, or financially supporting political campaigns and parties. The issue is he essentially didn’t do it. He attempted but failed.
Trump did sign an executive order in 2017 that tends to make it modestly a lot easier for churches to participate in politics. But it is vague and not almost as broad in its adjustments as Trump claims. Trump hoped to additional empower religious conservatives who have strongly supported him.
To his credit, Trump also mentioned, “We will fight with all our strength and every thing that we have in our bodies to defeat anti-Semitism, to finish the attacks on the Jewish individuals and to conquer all types of persecution, intolerance and hate.” Regrettably, there is small proof he extends this commitment to Muslims.
To the contrary, to an appalling degree, Trump has offered voice to anti-Muslim bigotry. Amongst properly-identified examples are his false claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the Planet Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001. Trump declared, “I assume Islam hates us.” He has repeatedly spread hate and suspicion and has sought to restrict Muslims from getting into the U.S.
But with or without having a Trump-flavoring, the National Day of Prayer is element of a nationalistic liturgy that seeks to shape our affections and contact forth loyalty — not to the God of all but to the god who has a distinct attachment to the United States of America. And that god is not one particular worthy of the devotion of these who claim to adhere to Jesus.