TIM WILDMON: Prayers by politicians have First Amendment protections

By Tim Wildmon

Texas Governor Rick Perry hosted a prayer gathering called The Response in Houston on August 6. American Family Association helped finance the event. An estimated 35,000 people were in attendance. Hundreds of thousands watched the live video stream both here in the United States and abroad, according to the statistics. The Freedom From Religion Foundation went to court filing a lawsuit against Gov. Perry to try to stop the day in the name of separation of church and state. The lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge in Texas who ruled that the FFRF had no standing and could not prove how they were injured.
On a side note, in its story about The Response gathering, the Associated Press erroneously reported that AFA believes Constitutional First Amendment rights only apply to Christians. That was a false statement. AFA believes that the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment apply to all religious faiths and all religions that do not break the laws of the land. Polygamists, for example, cannot hide behind freedom of religion.
I guess I am most amazed when atheists spend their time, energy and money trying to stop an event like this. If Christians are praying to a God that atheists say doesn’t exist in the first place, why do they care? On the FFRF website, they brag: “We protested Perry in 100 degree heat and survived!”
Seems to me, an objective observer would have to ask himself who is the greater fool: The Christian inside the air-conditioned stadium praying? Or, the atheist who stands outside in the sweltering Texas heat to protest people praying to a god that does not exist?
Hmmmm.
Interesting that the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and other critics of Perry on this, have had nothing critical to when President Obama hosted Muslims at the White House to celebrate Ramadan or other holidays.
And the idea that Gov. Perry did this for political reasons is absurd. In the first place, the idea for the event was hatched back in December, long before there was ever any talk of his running for president. The real reason Perry is running for president is that his longtime friend and political kindred spirit Mike Huckabee is not. Also, what kind of person with serious presidential aspirations would want to be seen at a prayer meeting with of bunch of religious right nut jobs as a way to kick off a campaign? That person would just be inviting mockery from the media and late night comics which is what Perry got from some quarters.
Gov. Perry’s call for prayer, fasting and repentance was genuine. There was no mention of politics at the event except for Perry praying for President Obama and his family. Down through our country’s history, many presidents and national leaders have been men of prayer.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the nation in some powerfully worded and passionate prayers over the radio during World War II. His prayers were not some bland ceremonial words to some deity somewhere. No, FDR’s prayers were moving, serious and inspiring. Here is an excerpt from his prayer heard on radio all over the nation on June 6, 1944, the evening of the D Day invasion. Remember, he composed this prayer himself.
“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.”
Another famous American who had a rich prayer life both privately and publicly was Baptist minister and civil rights champion Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is an excerpt from one his famous prayers:
“O God, our heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this golden privilege to worship Thee, the only true God of the universe. We come to Thee today grateful that Thou hast kept us through the long night of the past and ushered us into the challenge of the present and the bright hope of the future. We are mindful, O God, that man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things, and humanity is not God. Bound by our chains of sin and finiteness, we know we need a Savior.”
Wow. We need more leaders today like FDR and MLK who acknowledge the God of the Bible and bow before Him in humility and gratitude.