National Day of Prayer

I just read Cathy Lynn Grossman’s essay on “Is it the ‘National Day of Pray Our Way Only’ now?“.  For those of you who missed it last week (myself included), US District Judge Barbara Crabb handed down a decision in “Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., [FFRF]  v. President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert L. Gibbs” that the National Day of Prayer [NDP] violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion.

FFRF did not sue file the suit against Barack Obama, but against President George W. Bush, Jim Doyle, Shirley Dobson, chair, National Day of Prayer Task Force, and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino back before the election in 2008.  Since the “President” is being sued, rather than the individual, the decision is handed down to the president at the time, hence defendant Barack Obama.  Barack Obama is planning on signing the annual National Day of Prayer order anyway (he did so last year and irritated lots of people by emphasizing diversity).  Of course, he irritates others by acknowledging it in any way, which I’m sure we will hear about shortly.

As you would expect there is considerable handwringing and angst from a number of those on the right, which is where Cathy Lynn Grossman’s essay comes in.  She writes about the Pentagon inviting Rev. Franklin Graham (that’s Billy’s son) to speak at an NDP event at the Pentagon (the invitation may be rescinded because of some of his anti-Islam statements).  She also writes about James and Shirley Dobson (mostly Shirley, the “Chairperson, National Day of Prayer Task Force”) setting up an “official site” for the National Day of Prayer Task Force (as close as they can get to “official” for the whole thing).  The emphasis on the site is on Christian prayer (not surprisingly),

“Check out the story of why we pray that concludes that God doesn’t answer the prayers of folks who don’t approach him in the explicitly Christian way.”

So I went to the home page and found “Why Pray” (bottom right of the page) and expanded the box.  I started reading and guess what I found?

It’s not original.  Perhaps “plagiarized” is too strong of a word, but it smells fishy.

The opening, “Prayer has always been used . . . . only one way to insure protection-through prayer.” is from an earlier NDP posting.

The rest of the pieces were posted online, with copyrights, as early as 1996 by Michael Fackerell at The Big Issues and  Christian Faith.  There are later references to the works, but the “Why Pray?” instructions have been around for at least 14 years.  I didn’t find him listed as a consultant, any “permission by” or even his site listed in links.  Of course, there is the possibility that the material is originally from the NDP group, but I see no evidence of that.

You know, if someone’s going to tell us as a country when to pray and to whom and how, I’d like them to have AT LEAST put some thought and effort into it.  If someone is going to present him/herself as a moral authority, they should pay attention to their 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

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