I’m not really a fan of the National Prayer Breakfast. I see it as a ecumenical politicized love fest that is so vague about faith that it means virtually nothing at all. I’m also amazed at prayer breakfasts like this how little prayer actually happens.
President Obama in his remarks this morning gave a nod to everyone’s god (or lack thereof) when he said:
God’s grace, and the compassion and decency of the American people is expressed through the men and women like Corpsman (pronounced Core-Man, Mr. President, not corpse man) Brossard. It’s expressed through the efforts of our Armed Forces, through the efforts of our entire government, through similar efforts from Spain and other countries around the world. It’s also, as Secretary Clinton said, expressed through multiple faith-based efforts. By evangelicals at World Relief. By the American Jewish World Service. By Hindu temples, and mainline Protestants, Catholic Relief Services, African American churches, the United Sikhs. By Americans of every faith, and no faith, uniting around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
Anyway, I guess this is par for the course. I won’t deny that many different groups do good work, and the fact that faith gets boiled down to social justice.
He goes on to discuss civility.
And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth.
Vague. Measured. He doesn’t seem to point to one side or another. He makes a very postmodern statement when he said, “neither side has a monopoly on truth.” Yes and no, it depends on what we are discussing here. Abortion? Anyway, I digress. I cringed when I read what came next.
Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility. That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions. We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system. It’s not what would be expected from them, and yet they recognize, in those immigrant families, the face of God. We see that in the evangelical leaders who are rallying their congregations to protect our planet. We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can’t solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda. Stretching out of our dogmas, our prescribed roles along the political spectrum, that can help us regain a sense of civility.
Do you catch the shift. Talking at first to everybody in the room, but then shifts to paint liberals as being the ones who are noble, and conservatives who are not. Do you notice what he does… who needs to step out of their comfort zone? Well, conservatives of course! He praises those who comprehensive immigration reform and climate change.
Of course progressives have a weakness as well. They put too much emphasis on government (as if he doesn’t along with them). And how exactly should talking about responsible fatherhood and health marriage be just a conservative message anyway? Again he waters faith down to being just focused on an anti-poverty agenda.
He goes on:
We may disagree about the best way to reform our health care system, but surely we can agree that no one ought to go broke when they get sick in the richest nation on Earth. We can take different approaches to ending inequality, but surely we can agree on the need to lift our children out of ignorance; to lift our neighbors from poverty. We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are…
Yes we could find some common ground. But is he really willing? Along with lifting people out of poverty are we talking entitlements or are going to talk about empowerment? Are we going to discuss personal responsibility? With health care are progressives going to be reminded that government can’t do everything? Lifting children out of ignorance does that mean private and home education too? With targeting gays and lesbians for who they are… while no one wants to see them assaulted or killed, but does this mean to go the way of Canada? I wonder with hate crimes bills and the types of civil rights legislation that is being rammed through.
Again this seems, to me, to be hollow words and his remarks diminishes faith to what is political.