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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