Friday, May 13, 2011

NDP 2011

What exactly does creeping theocracy look like?

It looks like an exclusively Christian worship service held in the rotunda of the State Capitol, resulting from an enthusiastic response to a federal law “respecting an establishment of religion” insofar as it mandates an official day of prayer. It looks like government officials taking time off from their duties in order to preach sermons to the assembled citizens. It looks like government officials (in collaboration with powerful evangelical lobbyists) telling the citizens when to worship, where to worship, how to worship, and whom to worship. It looks, in brief, more-or-less exactly like the National Day of Prayer worship service held at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Thursday, May 5th of 2011.

For critical and archival purposes, we are reproducing here a few aspects of the NDP 2011 program. The following are the quotations from the inside front page of the event program.

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” – George Washington

“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious
Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched
and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the
deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced
by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
President Abraham Lincoln

“Righteousness Exalts A Nation…But Sin Is A Disgrace to Any
People” - Proverbs 14:34

“What other nation is so great to have their gods near them the
way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him”
Deuteronomy 4:7

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of
need.” - Hebrews 4:16

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our
arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our
prayers.” - J. Sidlow Baxter

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will
be a Nation gone under.” - President Ronald Reagan

“If we gather together on our knees, we solidify that sense within
our hearts that God is with us. And if He is with us, and if He is for
us, who can be against us?” - Beth Moore (Bible study leader)

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

First off, it must be said that George Washington never said or wrote the first quote, either in his farewell address of 17 September 1796, or anywhere else in his voluminous writings. Substantively and in terms of intellectual honesty, we are off to a rocky start here. This is why our English teachers taught us to carefully cite to original sources.

As to the quotations from a certain holy book, it must be pointed out that only one religion is represented on this page. This would not be a problem on any given Sunday in a private church bulletin, but this public event was billed as a “national day” intended for everyone, whereas this collection of quotations smack of a strictly Christian Nationalism. This impression is reinforced by mixing quotations from U.S. Presidents together with quotations taken from Protestant translations of Scripture and Protestant authors such as Baxter and Moore. This impression is further reinforced by the top billing of the event itself:

What we have here are the three top officials of the Oklahoma State government, presiding over an exclusively Christian worship service, in the heart of the State Capitol. Can one even conceive of a more perfectly calculated symbol for the integration of church and state?

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