Our text for today comes from the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 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.Please put aside your bibles, and turn to your internet. Visit the site of Dr. Andy Barron, who is running for Texas governor. Dr. Barron's first priority is as follows:
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."
Prayer as a priority - Since 1962 when prayer was eliminated unnecessarily from public schools there has been a steady decline in morals of our society.
The good doctor gives us more specifics on his Issues page:
■Prayer and Religious Speech Protected Under 1st Amendment
■Establishment Clause Requires the Government to be Neutral Toward Religion, and Does Not Justify the Exclusion of Religious Speech
■Legislative Prayer Is a Permissible Acknowledgment of Widely Held Religious Beliefs in this Country
■The Rights of Students to Pray at School
■The Rights of Students to Pray at Graduation
■Equal Access allows individuals and groups to use government facilities for prayer and worship on the same basis that other individuals and groups are given access.
By all accounts, Dr. Barron is a great guy. He has already accomplished more good in the world than I ever will.
Unfortunately, he is focused on reviving one of the problems that our nation's founders were trying to escape.
Dr. Barron grew up in Texas and went to Baylor. The organizations he belongs to are predominantly Protestant, so let's assume he's a Protestant.
Dr. Barron and other Christian Protestants can pray any time, anywhere. In between this paragraph and the previous one, I prayed a simple prayer. "God, please let this be a great post, and if it's okay with you, please let it be emailed around the world. Please help Kathie Glass be elected Texas governor. I want a pony. Amen."
You can't stop me from praying, at least in the Protestant sense of the word. You can't stop me, and I can't stop you. The legislatures can legislate all they want, and it doesn't do a bit of good.
But there's another kind of prayer, the kind that Jesus was irked about in this morning's Bible reading. Dr. Brent Beasley (of my own Broadway Baptist Church) calls this "Egocessary Prayer" (That's a play on words with the phrase "intercessory prayer", where you ask God for blog hits, election results and ponies). "Egocessary Prayer" is the kind I grew up hearing in school, at graduation services, before football games, and before most public events. It basically means "praying out loud in public".
Before a Mississippi private academy football game, a preacher gets on the microphone and asks everyone to bow their heads, and asks God to bless (so and so). Then the preacher thanks God for (so and so), and asks that He keep our young men safe on the football field while they are trying to kill each other.
Then the preacher outlines the plan of salvation, not because God is fuzzy on the details, but because the preacher's congregation needs to know that the preacher is earning his pay and trying to convert the Catholics and Episcopalians.
Bonus points are given for length, style, use of verbs from The King James version, and for passion. I once heard the equivalent of a double reverse backflip triple-axle, when a preacher at a graduation service shoveled in something about the superiority of full-immersion baptism.
And then finally, the preacher says "we ask these things in your son's name, Amen."
Then you can go on with your football game, graduation, or city council meeting.
What will happen down in south Texas when someone is asked to lead a public school prayer, and a priest decides to take advantage of the teachable moment and educate everyone on how to pray with a rosary? (Note to Yankees, Europeans, and Aussies: No one living north of Waco can imagine this ever happening.)
Is Dr. Barron prepared to purchase storage facilities for Muslim prayer rugs?
Is there time before a high school graduation to perform the "Festival of Ramen", the only way known to appease The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Will the schools have to make reasonable accomodations for all the tongs, salad sporks, colanders, and cheese graters? And if you think kids coming to school in gang colors are a problem, just wait until those who have been Touched By His Noodly Appendage show up in full pirate regalia.
1) To show off.
2) To evangelize.
There's no point in the first one, and The Founders were opposed to the second. End of story.
One last thing about the Barron candidacy, check out this video. It's only 30 seconds long.
Regardless of how you feel about Andy Barron as Texas governor, regardless of how hard you work to get him elected, or whether you do everything in your power to prevent him from becoming governor, none of that matters.
You don't matter.
Polls don't matter.
Effort doesn't matter.
Planning doesn't matter.
Andy Barron wasted his time becoming a doctor/dentist. If people's health/teeth were going to improve, it was going to happen anyway.
Please check out the video. It's only 30 seconds long. I don't know why I'm bothering to ask you to watch it, since if you watch it, it was bound to happen anyway.
Aren't you glad you got it over with?