Prayer and the Public Sphere

From Professor John Stackhouse:

Evangelical Christians have been complaining about not being included in
various commemorations of 9/11, whether in New York City, Washington,
D.C., or even here in Canada. But we shouldn’t be…

…Prayer in public secular events is like holding up a photograph of your
mother and saying, “I’ve got Mom on speakerphone now, so let’s all tell
Mom how much we love her as our mother and how we hope she’s proud of us
for what we’ve done at university/work/war.” People would look at each
other and then at you and think, “You’re crazy. She’s not our mother,
and we didn’t do it for her.”

Evangelical Christians of all people shouldn’t agree to pray at public
events such as 9/11 services. Prayer is too great to be sprinkled on a
secular occasion. That’s why I’m against formal prayers also in North
American legislatures, city councils, school boards, and the like. These
institutions, from start to finish, have no intention of conducting
their business “under God,” with constant reference to the Bible and
Christian tradition, seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in all they do. So it
dishonours God to drag God in for a token celebrity appearance at
ceremonies for institutions that otherwise ignore God all the rest of
the time.

Read the whole thing.  (And yes, I do agree with him.)


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