Prayer was cold, wet blanket on Michelle’s DNC speech

I just watched Michelle Obama give a really great speech at the DNC. I hope all the PUMAs (“Party Unity, My Ass” aka Hillary Clinton supporters) were listening closely. If they can’t support this woman and her family, they’re pretty hopeless (no pun intended).

I happened to be watching on CSPAN, which provides refreshing relief from pundits telling me what I just heard for myself and am perfectly capable of understanding. I was basking in all that warm, fuzzy glow the evening had generated and then — pow. Some preacher came on to deliver a very Christian “benediction” that included a lot of distinctly political requests.

Talk about jarring. I was stunned, considering all the talk about unifying Democrats and the country. I can’t think of a faster way to slam the door on any non-Christians who, until the prayer started, might have been feeling a part of it all. I also found it distasteful that so much of the prayer was for the granting of specifically Democratic goals. That was my impression, at least.

I’m going to guess the commercial networks cut away before the prayer started. I’m also going to guess I won’t be able to find video or text of the prayer to confirm what was said. But hearing it left me cold. Ours is a predominantly Christian nation, but public prayer has always made me intensely uncomfortable. Maybe this was another opportunity to remind voters that Obama is not a Muslim, but I’ve always found prayer at public gatherings to be, at the very least, presumptuous.

Note: Found it. Donald Miller’s closing prayer. He called it a benediction.

Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.
Amen.

Okay, I had to google Donald Miller (glad I have a computer in my cave). Seems he’s a best-selling evangelical author. I rest my case about Obama trying overly hard to show he’s a Christian.

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Categories: DNC '08, Election 2008, Obama, Politics, Religion

Tags: ,

13 replies

  1. Yuck. I am so sick of religion being brought into places it really has no business being, whether it’s Christian or whatever. Just get out of my face with that crap, you know? It’s superstition. It’s make-believe. It’s a psychological coping mechanism. It’s weak. It’s lame. It’s just plain DUMB.

    Oh, what, folks don’t like my beliefs shoved in their faces? Funny how that works.
    ____________
    Not a damn thing I can say to improve on that. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I found this mightily distasteful. I mean, had they NOT done this little Benediction thingy, who would’ve noticed? It’s silly, it’s pandering and it’s pointless.
    ________
    Yep, I’d still be thinking about Michelle’s speech if that little twit hadn’t made me so mad.

  3. Obama is a religion guy – but I do agree with you to some extent.

    It is those who label him a Muslim who are the idiots, but they won’t vote for him anyway.

    Her speech was excellent to say she doesn’t do this very often – good on her, I say!
    ___________
    I’d never heard her speak, so had no expectations. Thought she did a great job.

  4. The hate messages spewed out by DNC members and supporters[above] because of daring to have a prayer before a speech is indicative of the quality of the Obama campaign.
    _____________
    How is it hateful to question the propriety and political motives of a Christian prayer at a public gathering? How would you feel if, for example, a Muslim prayer had been offered? What if Chris Hitchins had stepped up and offered a blessing from the Church of the FSM? Why is it “hateful” to disagree with you?

    (just for the record, the prayer was after the speech at the close of the program)

  5. Not too concerned about the content of the prayer… but definitely I am concerned about comments by blogger Terri and all other bloggers against the benediction… really… religion does not belong at the Congress… where else will it belong… OK you may have a personal take against prayer at a congress… but do you think because of you it should be stopped even though thousands of other Democrats wanted it and appreciated the fact that upon all the wonderful speeches… there was a Supreme being they wanted to talk to for help and providence… I guess people have the option not to participate if they were not interested. But definitely DO NOT ask for it to be removed. Bless your hearts.
    _____________
    I won’t presume to speak for Terri, who is quite capable of speaking for herself. Speaking for myself, I’ll just repeat: I don’t believe a Christian prayer (or any prayer) belongs in a large public gathering (a convention, the halls of Congress, a football game, etc.) that likely includes people of other faiths, or no faith. That’s what churches are for — a place where Christians, or Muslims, or any other religion, choose to celebrate their particular religion.

  6. If there hadn’t been a benediction, a lot more people would be objecting, calling the Democrats “godless heathens” and worse. Yes, the prayer is political. It’s a political convention, for crying out loud. For all that, I thought it was pretty heavy on the substance and light on the proselytizing, so if there had to be a prayer (and there had to be, because that’s the country we live in and the Democrats actually want to try to win this year), this one wasn’t so bad. IMO.
    __________
    Yes, it’s a political convention, not a religous gathering. That’s exactly my point. Chris called it what it was — pandering, pure and simple. Make the Dems look more religious; blunt the Republicans’ charges of heathenism (is that a word?). I just wish they’d chosen another forum (say, a church) to make the point.

  7. You said it yourself, this has been historically a Christian nation, not a Muslim nation. Doesn’t it really come down to supply and demand. If there is enough demand for a Christian prayer then there should be a Christian prayer.

    However, I agree with you that was a pandering speech in my opinion, not prayer.
    ____________
    I have to disagree with the supply and demand analogy. Religion is not a public commodity; it’s a personal belief. It’s also is not a majority rule thing (see: freedom of religion, separation of church and state), even though it often seems that way. There are lesser considerations, too, like common courtesy and respect for others, but maybe that’s just the way I was raised.

  8. Ok… just as we all know we are entitled tgo our speech… prayer is free speech regardless of when, where it is said.. nad without diverting our focus on what we reaaly should talk about…namely the need for a Visionary Leader for the next 4-8 years.. I will just add one more comment to this benediction thingy:

    Anyone who has expressed their misfeelings about the prayer at the convention, is actually expressing his/her religious freedom…namely anti- prayer, or anti-Faith, or anti-God… based on their own Faith and beliefs… So this is how I see it… You are just not comfortable with the Faith of the multitudes who have gathered at the DNC… you are not happy that they freely expressed their faith(Prayer), without stopping you from expressing yours…namely boycot or just not care… I am not sure if you want them to tolerate or bare with your Faith… which is – inteloerance for the Faith of others in a public gathering… Please don’t fret over this just think about it the rest of your God-given life on earth… and if you don’t believe that either… then let’s sya your AMOEBA-given life… I eman whichever sounds good and works for you. Much respect and love… Richie
    _____________
    If by Visionary Leader, you mean Barack Obama, then we are in full agreement. See you at the polls!

  9. I don’t care about the content of the prayer/benediction. It was entirely inappropriate at a political gathering in country where we’re supposed to have a separation between church and state. It wasn’t illegal or anything like that, but it was inappropriate. I also would’ve found it innappropiate had someone stood up and given a two minute explanation on why God doesn’t exist.

    Realistically they could’ve just left it out and people likely wouldn’t have noticed its abscence, since last I heard it isn’t a requirement at a political gathering.
    _____________
    As noted above, had it been left out, the Republicans probably would have had a field day — at their peril.

  10. (for more on my opinions on this, see my site at wilybadger.wordpress.com PLUG!) 😉
    _________
    Okay, you owe me for this. 🙂

  11. Video of the prayer can be found on my blog today. Personally, I liked it.
    __________
    Hey, thanks for the link. I’m sure people will be looking for the video.

  12. I’m a lutheran pastor who finds such a Christian prayer (really any prayer at all) at these assemblies quite disturbing. Even if much of the content of the prayer is good, I’m disturbed not just for the fact that there are surely lots of non-Christians present, but also because of the very common tendency at political gatherings toward ‘civil religion’ that uses God’s name as a cover. Civil religion turns a nation, a party, a policy, or a candidate into the object of worship. Called idolatry, this is a huge no-no in the doctrines of all of the world’s mono-theistic religions. Yet it is subtly done all too often.

    In church (also a public place technically – all are welcome!), we pray constantly and boldly – in Jesus’ name – for our and other governments, for our leaders, for wise and just policies that specifically benefit the weak and vulnerable, for appropriate use rather than abuse of power, etc etc.
    ___________
    Thank you, Ace, for explaining that so much better than I did.

  13. I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt, a rather devot man, who made comments against putting “In God We Trust” on our currency because he thought it inappropriate to sully God with common politics. Good man.
    ___________
    Another good reason to not mix church and state.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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