When the Founding Fathers devised the Constitution as a guide for future generations of Americans to govern the country, they were astute enough to put in place legal principles that transcend time to meet the needs of a changing world. Although they could not imagine the technological advancements the industrial revolution would bring, or the expansion the country experienced, they planned a secular government that could successfully address issues that affected the country then and into perpetuity. The Founders counted on a government of intelligent leaders who used common sense and concern for the country to make important policy decisions to protect the country as well as its citizens.
The Founders also put provisions in the Constitution to keep religion separate from government, and in fact, made sure that no religious test could be used for candidates for a political office as well as disallowing the government establishment of a state religion. Regardless of the Founders’ wishes and the Constitution’s prohibition on religion in government, Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists have been on a rampage to install Christianity as the state religion as well as the driving force for policy decisions and the basis for legislation to decide the morality of the country. On Monday, Texas governor Rick Perry (R) sent out an invitation to the nation’s other 49 governors asking them to attend a religious meeting in Houston to pray and fast together.
Perry is contemplating a 2012 presidential run, and without a clear evangelical nut-job candidate to carry the cross of salvation into the White House, he hopes to fill the void and pick up the religious-right’s endorsement and support. The event that Perry invited the other governors to attend is the “The Response,” and is sponsored by the American Family Association, a Christian advocacy group that is responsible for the outrageous Personhood Amendment movement being promoted in more than a dozen states and counting.
The Texas governor, who flirted with the possibility of leading his state in seceding from the United States, posted a message on AFA’s website to express his profound religious belief that America’s only hope of peace and prosperity is through prayer and supplication. Perry wrote; “Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel.” Perry continued that, “There is hope for America, and we will find it on our knees … [a]s a nation, we must come together, and call upon Jesus to guide us.” A brief perusal of the Constitution is enough to belie Perry’s assertion that calling on Jesus or any other Bronze Age deity is the only hope for our nation according to the Founding Fathers, and his admonition that the nation must come together on our knees is a sappy campaign ploy to garner support from the Religious Right and nothing else.
The concept of using prayer to solve the nation’s problems is a trap meant to engender support for anti-gay sentiment as well as legislating morality in state legislatures, and recently, the United States Congress. Many evangelical preachers like Pat Robertson have claimed that regardless the faith and prayers of evangelical Christians; god has forsaken America because of rampant homosexuality and legal abortions. Although it is ridiculous on its face, blaming homosexuality and abortion for god ignoring prayers has emboldened conservative Christians to push for legislation to criminalize homosexuality as well as restrict access to abortion as a means of getting back in god’s good graces. There is a more reasonable explanation for god’s deaf ear to prayers from the faithful.
In the findings of a decade-long study of the effect of prayer on surgery patients, results showed that prayers offered no benefits to patients whether from strangers or family and friends. It does not take a ten-year-long study to prove that prayer is useless in preventing any unfortunate circumstance, or there would never be a casualty-of-war among deeply religious soldiers in the field of battle. Indeed, when entire congregations have used imprecatory prayer to call on god to kill a politician or hated public personality, the subject of the prayers never meets their demise. Prayers did not help Governor Perry bring much-needed rain to his state any more than a Native American’s rain-dance, and yet he thinks getting 49 other governors to pray and fast will miraculously cure the nation’s ills. Perry may be a devout Christian, but he knows that prayer is useless or he would just ask the faithful to pray him into the White House and avoid a bruising political campaign.
The country doesn’t need our leaders promoting more divisive religious events or controversy that will not solve any of the nation’s problems. Perry said the nation must “call upon Jesus to guide us” and ask for “God’s forgiveness, wisdom, and provision,” but Jesus or god are not going to create jobs or help the economy make a robust recovery. According to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, that is what voters elect their representatives to do and no manner of evangelical prayer and fasting will change that simple fact. The governors in all 50 states preside over and represent Americans of all beliefs and not just Christians, but that isn’t even the point. There are real-world problems of people without adequate food, shelter, and affordable health care, and for Perry and his cohorts to waste one minute spending a day fasting and praying is a slap in the face of America’s citizens.
If Governor Perry and his Republican, evangelical-Christian cohorts in governor’s mansions are sincere about getting down on their knees and asking for something, they should beg the American people’s forgiveness for depriving them of affordable healthcare, adequate housing, and decent paying jobs. After showing contrition for wasting taxpayer dollars on evangelical prayer meetings, they can get to work and do their jobs instead of gathering on one day to pray and fast in hopes their Bronze Age deity will transform America into a theocracy ruled by Dominionists.
It is insulting to the memory and sacrifice of the Founders and patriotic Americans who fought and died to protect the Constitution and the American way of life to designate a day to pray for America. It is also insulting that nationally, politicians designate a day or month to pray for the country instead of working in accordance with the Constitution to conduct the nation’s business. The Founding Fathers may or may not have been religious, but they made sure that America would never face the prospect of a theocracy.
They did put in place protections and a guarantee that America would have a secular form of government then and now, but the Religious Right and conservative Christians have been chipping away at the Constitution’s separation of church and state, and if they continue, their goal of theocratic government will become a reality. Please contact your state’s governor and ask them to reject Governor Rick Perry’s invitation to get on their knees and ask for Jesus to solve America’s problems. They can do that in their house of worship; in the meantime, they should get to work and solve the real problems Americans are facing. They may actually accomplish something and along the way, will honor the Constitution and the Founding Fathers who tasked them with conducting a secular government and working for the American people. For Republicans and conservative Christians, working for the American people is a mythological impossibility just like their belief that prayer will solve the nation’s problems.