Thursday, May 3, 2007

56th National Day of Prayer

I learned about the National Day of Prayer through a little blurb in my local newspaper last week. My town actually had an "event", which took place "at noon in the Council Chambers at Cheshire Town Hall. The theme this year is 'America Unite in Prayer".

Well to say I was surprised to read this is putting it mildly. So I did a Google search, since it was labeled as "national", and found an entire website dedicated to it. A scan of the "About Us" page had some interesting information:

Who We Are

We are the Judeo-Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer which was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

What We Do

The National Day of Prayer Task Force exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership.

"To intercede for America and its leadership?" The word intercede surprised me in this usage, so to be sure I was understanding it correctly I looked it up:


1. to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition.
2. to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.

Yeah, I am understanding it correctly, and not liking it at all.

What is it about this country's inability to follow it's own rules about the separation of church and state? I watched a movie called Does Europe Hate Us? and one of the things they do laugh at us about is our inability to do just that. It is becoming incredibly annoying to me.

But I wonder, would it be as annoying to me if I myself believed in God?

A couple of years ago, Newsweek had a terrific article on its My Turn page. I looked all over and tried to find a link to post here, but with no luck. The article was about how people can't deal with atheism. Every religion dictates a tolerance for other religions, but most people I have spoken to can't deal with no religion.

Years ago I was part of a playgroup where one of the moms was a Mormon. She was a lovely woman who I enjoyed spending time with, and was actually the person who introduced me to the idea of homeschooling. Although supercilious statements like "Catholics believe...Mormons know..." popped up too much to be missed, she was otherwise very accepting of the other women in the group of different religions, but she was on a constant quest to help me define mine. She just could not deal with the fact that I did not identify with some religious group, and even found a website where I could take a test to help. Since I refused to take it, she actually took it for me, and stopped harassing me once she could label me as being most closely aligned with Buddhism. (I have recently taken it myself and find that I am evenly matched between Buddhism and Paganism.)

An article on the Newsweek website states:
In a recent [2006] NEWSWEEK Poll, Americans said they believed in God by a margin of 92 to 6—only 2 percent answered "don't know"—and only 37 percent said they'd be willing to vote for an atheist for president.

Of course this is exactly why so many people have such issues of acceptance when it come to people who do not believe in God; comparatively speaking there are so few of us. But to actually not vote for someone because of a lack of religion?

Perhaps it is this intolerance which makes me increasingly intolerant of the state of affairs in our government. Yes, I believe that "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. Yes, I believe that "In God We Trust" should be removed from our money. I believe that placing one's hand on the bible to swear in a court of law is ridiculous, and I believe that moments of silence in schools should be banned. Because all of this assumes a belief in God.

Freedom of religion means all religions. And it should also mean no religion.