Sunday, March 14, 2010

The assumed welcome: Christian Prayer

It's been a hot issue all over the country - Christian prayer offerings - but who really asks for it?

There's an assumed welcome mat for prayer laying at the door of just about every public assembly of people everywhere.  Town meetings, political gatherings, commencement exercises, sporting events and the like seem to all have become "fair game" to begin by prayer or to somehow otherwise include some sort of god recognition.  It's an understood done-deal tradition... or at least it use to be.

Who asks for these prayer moments?  Not me, that's for sure, and I really don't think that most of the people who attend these functions, Christian or not, actually give any honest thought to wanting a prayer said wherever they intend to gather in mass.  So who's to blame?

Meeting and event organizers all seem stuck in the same gear.  They have an agenda to fill and it's part of the job of organizing to fill it; but, why fill it with religious bias?  Is it a knee-jerk on the part of meeting hosts?  Is it failed creativity, failed empathy for minorities, failed understanding and respect for first amendment rights to liberty and justice for all?  Just where does this assumed need for prayer come from?

In my mind its a mixed bag.  Meeting planners and hosts, at least in the past few years, have become far more aware of the possibility for negative reactions to any inclusion of any planned group prayer they may offer at an event; (or at least they should have become more aware) yet, there has hardly been any sharp decrease of the habit to include such invocations and the like - more and more, it seems, at every turn.  In fact, it sometimes appears that organized public prayer moments have popped up with greater frequency rather than not.  Is it stubborn backlash?  Personally, I think that could be it.

But what's to be done...?  How about shouting out in protest?  How about filing suit?  How about getting a spot on the event planning committee and then changing the way things go? Try this on for size: Fiendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, posted this about invocational prayer.

Its high time to do away with the old notions that prayer at public meeting are universally welcomed.  Especially since THEY'RE NOT!  

Get involved in a freethought or skeptic group.  There's plenty to do that needs your help.  
The assumed welcome: Christian Prayer

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