April 18, 2010

Zealots Never Sleep

Justin Katz

Think what you will of the outcome, it's astonishing — and not a little unsettling — that there are people who think it the most important use of their time and resources to battle the benign and vapid symbolism of a particular "national day of":

A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic. ...

Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2008 arguing the day violated the separation of church and state.

Even casting my mind back to my own, sometimes obnoxious, atheism, I can't imagine the sort of zealotry that must spur people to organize in opposition to a generic call to prayer. Of course, organizational dynamics probably play some role — with the actual foundation soliciting limited funds from a broad number of people and then having to contrive action items to prove that it's worth the donation (which, one imagines, the donors see mainly as a thumb in the eye of us fundies).

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Honestly, I don't care either way, but history shows that Jefferson and many other founders would never had allowed such a day to be declared by the government!

Of course, the fact that an anti-democracy group called The Family are the folks who sponsored and started it.....is another concern.

Of course, we can't let facts get in the way of a good talking point...personally, I think the Judge and Thomas Jefferson were both 100% correct.

It is a very sad day when spirit needs the government to declare for them.

"1808: Thomas Jefferson also opposed declarations of national days of prayer by the Federal government. He wrote "Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.""

Posted by: Stuart at April 18, 2010 4:14 PM

Didn't take stuart long,did it?He recoils at anything like this.
Funny thing is that I'm not a follwer of any religion and am generally unaware of this day unless they mention it on the news.It just doesn't BOTHER me like it does Stuart.
People like him cannot just leave well enough alone-they have to tell us how we should live day in and day out.They make themselves easy to despise.Or hate.Or laugh at,except with one of their own in the White House,it isn't a joke.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 18, 2010 7:35 PM

Joe, Joe, Joe......

Where did I say it bothers me?

Apparently, you are losing your powers of reasoning! It is Justin who it bothers.....just the thought of following the Constitution and the Founders vision bothers him!

Probably my biggest beef with this farce is that it was started and promoted by an anti-democracy group who feels they are chosen men.....better than you and I.

If you don't know about The Family, please read the book or at least check it out online. They are a secretive society of Men who are very high up in our government and who believe they are chosen by Jesus Christ to bring back the True Government (NOT democracy) to our Country and the World.

Members include Gov. Mark "hiking the trail" Sanford and Senator John "Screwing my friends wife and paying her 100K hush money" Ensign.

Such people should make any real religious person embarrassed.

The Leader of The Family, who started this National Day of Prayer, is one Doug Coe. He does not believe in our current democracy and admits it. He claims that if one of his "Brethen in Prayer" was a child rapist, he would not turn him in to the Police! That is because they are "chosen" by God.

Here is just one quote from The Man Who Established this National Day Justin is Defending:

"Doug Coe offered Pol Pot and Osama bin Laden as men whose commitment to their causes is to be emulated. Preaching on the meaning of Christ's words, he says, "You know Jesus said 'You got to put Him before mother-father-brother sister? Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that's what they taught the kids. Mao even had the kids killing their own mother and father. But it wasn't murder. It was for building the new nation. The new kingdom.""

Here's the child abusing lines:
"he asked a young man who'd put himself, body and soul, under the Family's authority, "Let's say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?" The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. "No," answered Coe, "I wouldn't." Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he's among what Family leaders refer to as the "new chosen."

So, yeah, keep these a-holes out of my secular government!

Posted by: Stuart at April 18, 2010 8:34 PM

"Funny thing is that I'm not a follwer of any religion and am generally unaware of this day unless they mention it on the news.It just doesn't BOTHER me"


This is one of those efforts - unionizing for better work conditions and womens' rights being two other examples - that would be so much more valuable in another country as the problem in those areas is so much greater than in the US.

Posted by: Monique at April 18, 2010 10:12 PM


I think you have a good point. While I do not share your "obnoxious atheism," I appreciate your respect for those of us of faith. America was founded a Christian nation contrary to what many others believe. Others can have their views and they are allowed their views by law; never-the-less, the founding fathers were evangelical Christians, even Jefferson. They established America as a Christian nation.

It is really foreign to me that anyone could object to a day of renewal regardless of individual faith.

Posted by: Eriche Rudolf at April 18, 2010 10:43 PM

Stuart-I'm married to areligious Christian woman going on 40 years now-she probably would like me to share her faith,but I can't say I believe in a religion which I don't-any more than I ever cared to follow Judaism-the only time I ever went to chapel was in the service because we had to in boot camp.
Sometimes I went in Vietnam because there was a nice doctor from Brookline,MA who ran the services-he was just a layman like the rest of us-the Chaplain for our area had been killed by a mine,and they didn't have another one available.
Point being that I just live and let live.I was in the last graduating class in the US to have a legal prayer said at the ceremony.It was the 23rd Psalm-my personal favorte which I've said all my life-it's non-sectarian and it really says something to me.
Stuart-I don't know the group you're speaking of nor who Mr.Coe is.
Sounds like another James Dobson,who makes me wretch.
Believe it or not,Jerry Falwell was a guy i could listen to,because he came to his beliefs through being raised by a father and grandfather who were non-believers and dishonest in the bargain.He never got caught at anything and you can bet the media was gunning for him,so I think he was sincere.
Another sincere and amzingly observant religious leader was Warith Deen Muhammad,Elijah Muhammad's son.He died recently.He spoke in a low key manner,but said some very true things-he also llived a very modest lifestyle.
I don't know why i'm rambling on here,but religion has always been such a hot button topic for so many people.
I only know one thing for sure-we,as parts, can never figure out the whole,and the Universe didn't make itself from nothingness.
Maybe a National Day of Prayer offends some people,but in a free country no one has a RIGHT not to be offended.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 18, 2010 11:07 PM

As long as it's not a state-mandated religion, I have no problem. As long as it's clear that we have freedom for prayer that isn't exclusively Judeo-Christian, I'm cool with it.

Posted by: rhody at April 19, 2010 12:36 AM

What I think is funniest about this is if Congress, or a Governor or any other government official declared a "Wiccan Day" or "Satan Day" or month, the Christians would go bananas. And that would by hypocritical if they think a National Day of Prayer is ok.

Plus, can anyone argue that prayer is non-religious? I don't mean non-secular, I mean can anyone argue that there are not religious overtones to this "National Day"? And exactly how does that jibe with this whole Separation of Church and State thing? It would seem to be in direct contrast.

Sorry, I'm just taking the Constitutional view of this.

Posted by: Patrick at April 19, 2010 8:41 AM

>>the founding fathers were evangelical Christians, even Jefferson

Now that is the largest piece of BS I have ever seen written here!

Ben Franklin, Jefferson and many other founders were closer to Deists, which means they were practical people, who beleived "religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion."

That is as FAR from being an evangelical Christian as one could possible be!

Ben Franklin was NEVER asked about his faith until a letter from a lady shortly before his death. In that letter, he states he does NOT believe in the divinity of Jesus.

Is that a Christian?

The only think you can claim true about the founders was that they generally subscribed to the MORAL and ETHICAL system which Judeo-Christian religions had laid out...you know, like the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

Heck, I believe in that!

Please stop rewriting history!

Oh, George Washington wrote a nice letter to the Jews of Newport in which he claimed other religions were not just "tolerated" in America, but that they were equal.

"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."
George Washington to the Jews of Newport

Here are Ben Franklins words....it should tell you something that he was never even asked this before he was 84!

"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire - I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity"

Well, maybe Justin can explain to us how someone who has doubts as to the divinity of Jesus could be a avid Christian and Evangelist? I'll await your kind response.

I'll leave you with a little of Jefferson, that fine "Evangelist"!

"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."

""Ministers of the Gospel are excluded [from serving as Visitors of the county Elementary Schools] to avoid jealousy from the other sects, were the public education committed to the ministers of a particular one; and with more reason than in the case of their exclusion from the legislative and executive functions."

"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man."

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. "

""In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."

Posted by: Stuart at April 19, 2010 9:11 AM

Erich the Troll,

Are you happy? The only one dumb enough to fall for your act is your fellow left-winger! Who says there's any sensibility or intellectual heft on the left these days.

Posted by: Andrew at April 19, 2010 9:45 AM

Andrew, please try to get my name right if you are going to call me a "troll."

Stuart, have you ever heard of the Jefferson Bible? Today, we call it a "Red Letter Edition." It has the words of our Lord and savior highlighted to emphasize their importance as different from the words of Paul, Luke, or others. Jefferson studied the Bible and invented the Red Letter edition. That shows some strong religious belief.

Posted by: Eriche Rudolf at April 19, 2010 4:21 PM

Does anybody even read Stuart's responses anymore? I just scroll over them to the other comments as soon as I see his trademark 12 paragraphs with every tenth word CAPITALIZED.

Posted by: Dan at April 19, 2010 6:31 PM

Jefferson attempted to remove all the Divinity of Christ, Miracles and all the other stuff Evangelists and Catholic base their religion on, while attempting to keep the moral underpinnings.

"The Jefferson Bible begins with an account of Jesus’s birth without references to angels, genealogy, or prophecy. Miracles, references to the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and Jesus' resurrection are also absent from the Jefferson Bible"

I would not call that Evangelist and Christian in the modern sense - nothing to do, for instance, with the views of the "Christian Coalition" and absolutely nothing to do with injecting religion into public affairs or government. In fact, he turned down a national day of prayer!

Were some of the founders and early Presidents ethical and moral men? I think so.

But they actually rebelled, if I can use that word, against the Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian zealots, preferring liberalism, enlightenment and nature/science as the "way" to reason.

It worries me that we have now come so far backwards that 7 out of 9 GOP Prez candidates raise their hand when asked if they DON'T subscribe to Evolution!

Sad, really!

Posted by: Stuart at April 19, 2010 6:34 PM

Eric the Troll,

If you are going to impersonate an evangelical, you need to know that Paul didn't write any of the Gospels. D'oh! Though it's really no surprise to learn that a left-wing troll knows about Thomas Jefferson's attempt to create a version of the Gospels that made no mention of Jesus' divinity.

And if you want anyone to care about the spelling of your name, don't use the name of a domestic terrorist as your trolling handle.

Posted by: Andrew at April 19, 2010 8:41 PM

"It has the words of our Lord and savior highlighted to emphasize their importance as different from the words of Paul, Luke, or others. Jefferson studied the Bible and invented the Red Letter edition."

What??? I'm a heathen and I know that's baloney about four different ways.

Eriche, you demonstrated beyond a doubt earlier that you are not a Tea Partier. Now you've confirmed that you are also not a christian.

Give it up. Trot forth your real views so we can have a forthright discussion on gov't policy and political philosophy.

Posted by: Monique at April 19, 2010 9:17 PM

Why complicate things?

Can't we all just agree that an enlightened Government should not meddle in either religion or in lack of religion?

I suppose some can't, or Justin would not have written the post!

Justin fails to inform us that many thinking theologians are AGAINST a government sanctioned day of prayer!

"Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said in a May 5 post on the Washington Post/Newsweek “On Faith” blog, that it isn't "government's job to tell the American people what, where or when to pray. Although most presidents have issued prayer proclamations, two of the most ardent supporters of religious freedom, Thomas Jefferson -- author of the Virginia Bill Establishing Religious Freedom -- and James Madison -- father of the Constitution -- opposed them....it's more appropriately called for by the preachers, priests and prophets among us -- not civil magistrates, the Congress or even an American president.”

Sounds like Justin needs to get some true religion!

Also, I have not heard any rebuttals about the strange brew who sponsor this National Day. To The Family, we can now add teh Dobsons - you know, that Focus on the Family PAC!

I'm frankly amazed that any reasonable and educated person "buys" this politicization of their religion. To their credit, many faiths don't....and have called this what it is - just another divisive wolf wrapped up in sheeps clothes.

Posted by: Stuart at April 19, 2010 9:40 PM


Of course, Paul never wrote any of the Gospels. I never said that he did. I said the Jefferson excluded the commentary of Paul in his Bible (which is correct).


You are getting your wish. You obviously do not want anyone who speaks honestly.

This all reminds me of what happened to the Women's Lib movement in the 80s. There was a move to push out the dykes because they caused an embarrassment; the movement splintered as a result.

Posted by: Eriche Rudolf at April 20, 2010 10:14 AM
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