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May 6, 2010

Christians Defy Judge's Ruling and Mark National Day of Prayer

For years, the annual National Day of Prayer observances on Capitol Hill had become almost routine affairs as mostly conservative Christian groups bowed with legislators to pray for the soul of America.

But this year, after a federal judge ruled the law creating the day is unconstitutional, Thursday's events took on an air of defiance as organizers accused nonbelievers of threatening their religious freedom.

"I think it is waking people up across this land," said evangelist Franklin Graham, the honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, who was disinvited from Pentagon observances because of his remarks on Islam.

"I think people realize, many Christians, how we're losing our religious freedoms a little bit every day and if we don't stand up and exercise the freedoms that God has given us in this country, we will lose them."

Graham began the day praying on the sidewalk outside the Pentagon, after military officials withdrew his invitation to speak because his comments about Islam -- he's called it an "evil and wicked religion" -- were "problematic."

Across the country Thursday, organizers said more than 40,000 events were scheduled to be held at parks, churches and courthouse steps -- more than any other year and an increase of more than 15 percent from last year.

Shirley Dobson, leader of the task force and the wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, noted that the nationwide observances are voluntary.

"Citizens can choose to pray or not to pray," she said. "No one is required to participate, despite what the opponents of public prayer say."

She was thankful that the Obama administration is appealing the April 15 decision by Wisconsin federal judge Barbara Crabb -- who ruled observances could continue as her decision is appealed. Dobson said the Pentagon's rescinded invitation was "dishonoring" to Graham and his son, Edward, an Army captain now serving in Afghanistan.

"This situation that's come up the last several weeks serves as yet another indication of the relentless assaults against our religious liberty," she said.


After winning the first legal round, the Freedom from Religion Foundation urged mayors and governors not to endorse the National Day of Prayer this year. It also placed billboards in Colorado Springs, Colo., home to the prayer day task force's headquarters, declaring "God &
Government a Dangerous Mix: Keep State & Church Separate."

In his keynote address at the Cannon House Office Building, Graham acknowledged that people "of other faiths" might hear his message but he could only speak as a "minister of the gospel."

"I don't want to be offensive to anyone," he said, "but I only know how to pray and I only know how to preach the way that the Bible instructs me."

Graham said the nation has "committed mass murder" through abortions and "taken God out of our schools." He predicted God's judgment on the country and its citizens for not living up to divine standards.

"I'm guilty; our nation is guilty," he said. "But our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ."

The printed program called for "executive branch remarks," but no representative of the White House spoke. The audience of about 400 prayed for the White House, turning in its direction down Pennsylvania Avenue and reaching out their hands in prayer.

"I thank you that President Obama has issued a proclamation, a powerful proclamation for this day of prayer," said Dave Butts, president of Harvest Prayer Ministries of Terre Haute, Ind. "I thank you, Lord, that he is instructing the Justice Department to take a stand against this judicial ruling that would declare this day unconstitutional."

While Obama issued a proclamation-- as he did last year -- he has not continued the tradition of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who held an observance at the White House with task force leaders during his presidency.

"Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the nation," Obama said in his proclamation.

The annual observance is personal for the Graham family. Ailing evangelist Billy Graham encouraged Congress to enact a law about the prayer day when he held a crusade in Washington in 1952. Congress passed the law later that year and, in 1988, made it more specific, calling for it to be marked on the first Thursday of May.

On Capitol Hill, some attendees said the court ruling made it more important for them to attend this year's observance.

"I think that a lot of people believe that our Christian heritage is under siege," said Barry Blenis, a banker and Baptist from Albany, N.Y. "This country was established for freedom of religion, primarily Christian religion and now it's like the minority, 3 or 4 percent is saying `Well, I'm offended' so you can't do this or do that."

Comments

How exactly are Christians "defying" the judge's ruling? She didn't rule that they can't celebrate the day. She ruled that the government can't endorse such a day.

You're making Christians sound like oppressed victims with this misleading headline.

They're not.

As Hemant pointed out, Christians have lost no freedoms with the judge's ruling.If they want to celebrate May 6th as National Prayer Day, they are free to do that. Heck, if government officials want to personally endorse National Prayer Day, they can do that.

The government just can't recommend that people pray or tell them what to pray about.

"Defy???" That's really brave of highly privileged celebrity televangelists to legally exercise their freedom of speech, in a very public place, in front of massed cameras and reporters...and bodyguards and assistants. The Civil Rights Movement activists of my youth can't compare to these brave men.

How can you "defy" a judge when he never said you couldn't pray? No one did anything against the judges ruling according to the article.

No one defied anything here. Adelle M. Banks seems to know very, very little about the situation. The judge made no ruling regarding the freedom to pray. There is no threat here to religion. The ruling was simply to follow the US Constitution and maximize liberty for all: the government can have no say on the matters of religion, per the first amendment.

No one's saying you can't have your National Day of Prayer. If that's what you think is going on you need to work on your comprehension skills.


The Americans need to be very wary of the militant atheists. Here in Europe, they are on war path against one religion, namely Christanity. They hate Christianity and will go to any length to wipe out Christanity. Their latest attack has been against a black Christian marriage registrar, who had refused to marry same sex couples. They hounded her out of job. Yet the same PC militants who never hesitate for a moment against Christians and Christianity, are strangely very quiet against the very illiberal practices of Muslims for example their treatment of women.

They are willing to stoop to any level to get rid of Christian symbols and signs. Recently, their target has been to push the name of Christ out of Christmas, by labelling it as Winter holidays and campaigning against Christmas decorations in streets and work places. A couple of years ago the Birmingham City Council decided not to decorate the local streets at Christmas. When approached about it, they claimed that it was done due to local Muslim people's objections. When we contacted the local Muslim leaders, they denied having any objections. So we took them with us to the City Hall. It turned out that some militant atheists inside the Town Hall had their own agenda.

The point I am tryiong to make is that Christians should never give up. They ought to fight the attempts to take away their freedoms at at every level, otherwise they will awakw up one morning to discover they have lost those precious freedoms.

I've lived in two European countries. I didn't see a hatred of Christianity, at that time anyway. I did see a certain sort of respectful distance. One was christened in the church, wedded in the church, then buried after services in the church, significant social traditions.

Everything else in the church...why? Everything else in the church, was also outside the church.

After all, being a Christian continent in the 19th Century, didn't prevent two very horrible wars, the depression, and the Iron Curtain in the 20th. WW I was fought largely between Christian countries, largely by Christians. Many of the non-Christian extremist influencers of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as former seminary student, Joseph Stalin, had Christian educations.

If Christianity couldn't dissuade and discourage such mind-boggling bloodbaths and mind killing authoritarianisms...well..why?

So, I think the thinking, semi-unconsciously, went, maybe it's just best to just have some lovely historic churches in which to hold your traditional life ceremonies, and then muddle through life as best you can...to get by with a little help from your friends. And you know what...no more terrible wars, open borders, the Iron Curtain fell, improved health and general prosperity. Perhaps a false correlation, but...why?

Look at Obama there! He wouldn't have the prayer in the White House - why? I suspect he is appeasing or in league with Marxist Stalinists and Muslim fanatics fascists, who seemed to be in charge of America right now! Why are the Atheist Marxist Stalinists given superior right over the rights of Christians to pray - which is voluntary; not forced on anyone! Thus, I think, there should be legal fight based on this discrimination! Further, Ms. Palin is right - modern US/Western civilization that include the modern laws, is based on the foundation of Christianity - as based on the Ten Commandments! But the fascists above, seemed to rewrite history and distort it in such evil ways - with the main goal, to destroy Christianity and break the spirits of Christians - who will not appease evil!


Everyone, please before continuing wasting time in this discussion check this link: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/n/National-Day-Prayer-Unconstitutional.htm

Also, Katharina Sri. Your comments: ""Look at Obama there! He wouldn't have the prayer in the White House - why? I suspect he is appeasing or in league with Marxist Stalinists and Muslim fanatics fascists, who seemed to be in charge of America right now!""

Clearly you did not read the 9th Chapter of the article by Ms. Banks. Because if you would have read it, you would not have missed the following statement by Shirley Dobson."She was thankful that the Obama administration is appealing the April 15 decision by Wisconsin federal judge Barbara Crabb -- who ruled observances could continue as her decision is appealed.

Most American evangelicals really have no idea what oppression is. In case you were wondering, this isn't it. The first amendment is still in full force and no one was denied anything except the overt promotion of religion by government entities.

I lived in a Muslim nation for many years growing up. There was and is oppression of Christians there, but also many opportunities for witness in word and deed. The church has not died there and indeed is vibrant and the faith deep in ways western evangelicals might have a hard time imagining.

"Shirley Dobson, leader of the task force and the wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, noted that the nationwide observances are voluntary. "Citizens can choose to pray or not to pray," she said. "No one is required to participate, despite what the opponents of public prayer say."
-----------------------

I understand that Shirley Dobson is not the most informed person out there, but even she must understand that the judge's ruling had *nothing* to do with voluntary individual prayer -- only with government sponsorship. Dobson's attempt to mischaracterize the situation is par for a Dobson, but you'd think that Sarah Pulliam Bailey might be a little more cognizant of the matter.

Seems like CT magazine just is not into listening. Change the title of this article CT! It is wrong! "defy" is a ridiculous word to use in this case.

Franklin Graham and his family are enthusiastic Republicans with a very poor understanding of American and World history, International Politics or the belief systems of other Religions (not surprising given that many of the younger generation were or are being educated at Liberty University). Franklin seems to be moving the BGEA further and further to the right and way from civil rights and social justice issues. Not that Billy was ever that forthright on those subjects but if you look at the BGEA website there is a very cosy political relationship with Sarah Palin, which is not appropriate for an evangelistic organisations.