Tom Eddlem, “The Non-Interventionist's Prayer.”
Following King George III's proclamation of February 4, 1780 as a Royal Day of Prayer -- with a special emphasis on the American War -- one loyal clergyman explained that the purpose of the observance was to renew the public's “zeal for the government.”
This must have been unsettling news for those among the King's loyal subjects who believed the purpose of worship was to express one's zeal for God.
The concept of a presidentially proclaimed National Day of Prayer suffers from exactly the same defect: It is a ritual designed to unite people in devotion to the Regime, rather than the Creator.
This isn't the intention of the earnest people who will fill worship halls on Thursday to do what comes naturally to them – express the desires of their hearts to God. The problem resides in the fact that they will have been summoned to do so by the president, with the implicit expectation that they will be praying for the success of his initiatives – particularly the war that has come to define his tenure.
Well, which is it -- are we to pray on behalf of the troops, or the criminals who refuse to bring them home?
A foretaste of that “continuous prayer meeting” was offered by Shirley Dobson, wife of Dr. James Dobson and Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, in her May 1 prayer on behalf of the military. To her credit, Mrs. Dobson asked for a quick end to the war in Iraq, but presumed that the will of the Almighty is in sync with the Bush administration's program to “establish Democracy” in that country.
The federal government has no constitutional mandate to establish Democracy anywhere, which means that Mrs. Dobson was asking God to confer His benediction on an illegal enterprise – even if one assumes that the inspiration behind the invasion and occupation was altruistic, rather than predatory. But given the unfathomable corruption that characterizes the war, it must be seen as the equivalent of a home invasion on a grandiose scale. Praying for its success would be like asking God to protect a band of armed robbers and to prosper their criminal undertaking.
Let there be no mistake: I am not saying that the men and women who enlisted in the military did so with plunder in mind. But they have been suborned by completely wretched and power-crazed people who have no scruples about shedding innocent blood.
At some point, however (and I'm hardly qualified even to guess what that point would be) each of them will have to take ownership of the moral consequences of continuing to serve in a consummately unjust war, as did Lt. Ehren Watada – who faces a court martial in July for his principled stand against this illegal war.
Many, perhaps most, of those who heed the regal summons for Thursday's act of nationalist devotion will assume, along with Bates, a loyal soldier of King Henry V, that “we know enough, if we know we are the kings subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.”
For those with even a remedial understanding of very recent history, however, such claims of exculpation through obedience summon the distant echo of jackboots on cobblestones, and offer a faint whiff of Zyklon-B.
It was a pious and sophisticated nation that gave rise to those atrocities. It ruler – a cynical demoniac surrounded by perverts and occultists – eagerly encouraged his subjects to engage in mass prayer on his behalf, even as his little clique undermined Germany's Christian Church with the objective of its ultimate destruction.
We shouldn't assume that America enjoys some happy immunity to the same disease that infected Germany. Some, including myself, believe that we've not only contracted that affliction, but are approaching its terminal stage. Prayer plays a central role in the only known remedy – but it has to be the product of honest self-scrutiny and the humility to accept God's will, rather than trying to dictate to Him.
Mark Twain was one of America's most notable unbelievers, but through Huckleberry Finn he gave voice to one of the central truths of eternity: “You can't pray a lie.”
Nor can we properly ask God to reward and bless any enterprise that is built on lies The Iraq war was rooted in lies and nourished with official corruption; it has yielded mass murder, terror, and civil war. It is a crime against our Constitution and, more importantly, an affront to God.
Yes, let us pray for an end to the war and for the safe and immediate return of our soldiers. But before we pray, we should ask ourselves:
*Do we pray for the success of occupiers, or for an end to the occupation?
*Do we pray for torturers, or for the tortured?
*Can we honestly ask God to confer his unction on presidential acts and policies that violate an oath – sworn in God's Name – to uphold and defend the Constitution?
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