Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Public Prayer in Jesus' Name: Yes or No?

Since the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Joyner v. Forsyth County that prayers offered in Jesus' name are unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal, some 25 to 30 government bodies across North Carolina have been in the cross hairs of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Humanist Association. They demand that any sectarian prayers cease and desist.

The ruling essentially turned the First Amendment on its head. Judge Paul Niemeyer, in his dissenting opinion, rightly lamented that in the ruling the court "dared to step in and regulate the language of prayer - the sacred dialogue between humankind and God."

This precipitates my sharing about two resources I recently came across that address this topic.
In September my son (Matt) and his wife (Kimberly) visited the U.S.S. North Carolina. This great battleship, also known as "Showboat" took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific during World War II. It became the most highly decorated American battleship, accumulating 15 battle stars and is now a museum ship and memorial docked in Wilmington.

While browsing the ship's gift shop, Matt and Kimberly came across an old "Song and Service Book for Ship and Field," used by Chaplains for both the Army and the Navy. According to the gift shop, the book had only recently been discovered in storage and was on the ship when the "greatest generation" fought to end tyranny around the world. Knowing my love for rare and out of print religious books, they purchased it as a gift for me on my birthday.

I must say I was elated to receive this newfound resource and immediately started to thumb through its pages. What I found on a cover page astonished me – something to my chagrin I had never seen before – something I would every American could read – Washington's Prayer for the Nation.

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