Several friends have sent me something about an upcoming Texas G.O.P. ballot proposition.....
No. 4 - Public Acknowledgment of God — The use of the word “God,” prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as permitted on government buildings and property.— YES or NO
Disregard for a moment whether or not any of this is constitutional. Disregard the Founding Fathers' desire to set up a republic, not a theocracy. Forget that most of the founders were Deists.
Let's look at this proposition from a Christian perspective.
On the use of the word "God" in public gatherings, in public educational institutions, and on government buildings and property
Here's commandment #3 out of 10.
Exodus 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Could there possibly be a worse use of God's name than tacking it onto the unholy works of the Texas Legislature? When those guys start throwing around the name of God, don't you instinctively check your wallet? Do you think God wants her name chiseled into the building where those folks meet?
I didn't agree with the late Molly Ivins about many issues, but I know she would have had a great time with this one.
Back to the commandment....In some translations, this verse is stated as "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." In other words, don't misuse God's name. Don't claim God's authority when you ain't got it. Or, for political purposes, don't use God's name as if it equaled The Good Housekeeping Seal Of Approval.
Are we also going to allow the words "Yahweh" and "Jehovah"? Or "Allah"? How about "Vishnu?" "Cthulu?" And what about those who are offended when the name(s) of their deities are thrown around lightly? What will happen when the Texas Speaker of The House proposes a pork-laden project called "The Lord's Highway" to be built between Abbott and Waco? Will anyone have the nerve to vote against THE HIGHWAY OF THE LORD????
Will we need to give equal time and representation to The Flying Spaghetti Monster?
On permitting prayer in public gatherings, in public educational institutions, and in government buildings and property.
I really don't think that the citizens of Pipe Creek, Texas, are prepared for students who might want to bring rosaries to class for prayer time. Has the Joaquin, Texas, school board made arrangements for Eastern Orthodox students who want to set up some icons in the corner?
Is the Rio Hondo school system equipped with lockers big enough to accomodate Muslim prayer rugs?
There are plenty of Texans who can remember teachers beginning the day with a class prayer. Some of us remember a student reading a devotional and then a prayer to the entire school over the intercom.
So what is this ballot proposal about? It's a simple wedge issue, one that dares anyone to publicly oppose it. It's about a desire to turn back the clock to a time when we had a uniform, unquestioned belief system that everyone respected, or at least honored with lip service.
That time is long gone. But if you really want to pray in school, or before a high school football game....
Let's try an experiment. Don't pray. I forbid you to pray. I've passed a law. You cannot pray. Don't you dare do it.
Did that work? Was I effective? I don't think so. Unless I find some way to end your life, you can pray all you want, and I can't stop you.
But then, you might argue that the Republican proposition seeks to legalize spoken public prayer, the kind where the supplicant outlines all the stuff he wants, what he wants God to bless (also known as intercessory prayer) and then outlines the errors of his opponents, explains The Plan Of Salvation for the benefit of the unsaved, and winds it up with a long coda telling God how great he is.
I've heard Brent Beasley of Broadway Baptist Church call this "Egocessary Prayer". It's more about the person doing the praying than it is about God. If you disagree with Dr. Beasley, well, here's what Jesus had to say on the subject:
Matthew 6:5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
6. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
All Christian Republicans who disagree with the Ten Commandments and Jesus can voice their disagreement by voting "Yes" on this ballot proposition.