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National prayers for national problems

"National prayers for national problems" Continued...

But the National Day of Prayer did not come without controversy in at least one state. The Colorado Supreme Court held oral arguments on Thursday in a case involving an atheist group’s efforts to block the governor from issuing honorary prayer proclamations. Dobson warned that if Colorado’s high court acts to bar such proclamations it could begin a process of erosion of the support that prayer has had throughout the country. Dobson noted that 34 of the nation’s 44 presidents have called for a National Day of Prayer while more than 1,200 such proclamations have been issued by a government executive in the country’s history.

Meanwhile, an organization aimed at eliminating the presence of religion in the military continued to criticize the participation in prayer events by military officials in uniform. Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of one group, sent a letter last week to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking that such practices be barred.

“The planned participation by uniformed U.S. military personnel in this private fundamentalist Christian religious event, run by a non-federal entity, is an unequivocally clear violation of the plethora of (Defense Department) regulations and instructions," Weinstein wrote.

But Major General Joseph S. Ward, the Deputy Director of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, did speak in uniform at Thursday’s event in Washington. He called himself a sinner who has a “deep and abiding faith in our Lord.”

Ward spoke about the inner battles many service members are facing, noting a statistic from the Veteran’s Administration that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

“Our service men and women are hurting so are their families,” he said. “They need our prayers. In order to do so we must continue to allow our servicemen and women to freely and openly exercise their right to express their faith.”

The event’s keynote speaker was evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Rev. Billy Graham. She warned that the nation’s many fiscal and social challenges should be seen as alarms going off about the dangerous path the country is on.

“God is trying to wake us up before it is too late,” she said. “God’s judgment is ugly when it falls. And He never sneaks up and judges us by surprise. He always, always, always sends warnings … the only antidote, the only solution is repentance of sin.”

Lotz urged everyone to put aside mechanical prayers and to cry out to God.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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