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The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, as designated by the U. S. Congress, when people of all religions are asked, “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” It is celebrated by people of diverse religions, including Christians of many denominations, as well as Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. Who could possibly feel uncomfortable with that?

My discomfort lies in it merely sounding too much like Christian Nationalism, which is a political movement that sacrifices the gospel of love upon the altar of political power. Adherents make the claim that America has been divinely appointed to carry out God’s work in the world. They claim that Protestant white men established this nation upon Christian principles, and that all others, including women, native Americans, enslaved Africans, immigrants, and those of other faiths, should simply accept this as being God’s will, and necessary to America becoming the great country that it is today. They believe that America has a special God-directed role to play in history and in particular with the second coming of Christ, and that Protestant Christianity should be recognized and privileged over all other faiths in this country.

These folks seem to ignore that during the past 400-plus years, America has been welcoming immigrants from a variety of cultures and religions to our shores, including those of various Christian denominations. This diversity has certainly enriched our country. While our country has had some terrific Christian leaders who have worked with love and humility to end slavery and segregation and injustice, others have used the Bible as a prop to support slavery and segregation and a fig leaf to cover their misogyny. Just because someone quotes scripture doesn’t mean that they have the slightest idea what it means. To truly embrace what a day of prayer should be, perhaps it should be renamed ‘A Day of Listening to God.’

Your Pastor and Friend,
John Loring

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