Branstad-7-14-proclamation
Photo credit: Prayer 7-14-14

Here is another story I didn’t have the opportunity to address prior to vacation.  Back in April, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation recognizing the Pray 7:14 event that took place on July 14th on the grounds of the Iowa Statehouse.

It read:

Now, Therefore, I, Terry E Branstad, as Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby invite all Iowans who choose to join in the thoughtful prayer and humble repentance according to II Chronicles 7:14 in favor of our state and nation to come together on July 14, 2014.

2 Chronicles 7:14 reads, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land,” (ESV).

Below is a video of Governor Branstad signing the proclamation.

This verse is has been inappropriately systemized as a formula for revival (that’s an entirely different article however).  The principle that expressed in King Solomon’s prayer when the temple was being dedicated holds true.  Revival is borne out of broken hearts borne out of repentance.

This is what this event was about.  Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds attended.  The Des Moines Register reported.

The event included songs, praise and worship. It began at 7:14 a.m. and concluded at 7:14 p.m. Scores of people gathered on the west side of the Capitol as the event began, and more arrived as the day progressed.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who signed a proclamation in April recognizing the event, and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, both addressed the worshippers.

Branstad noted that portraits of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hang in his private office at the Statehouse as they both were engaged in prayer.

“We have a long and proud tradition in America of having leaders who recognize this is a nation that has been truly blessed by God from the very beginning,” Branstad said

Branstad added that he appreciates it when Iowans tell him they are praying for him and the state and nation.

Reynolds read a daily devotion and thanked Caligiuri, a longtime friend, for her support and prayers.

“As a mother and a grandmother and a public servant, it is important for us to remain engaged in the public square, protecting God’s place in our conversation — not for ourselves, but most importantly, too, for future generations,” Reynolds said.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State took aim at Governor Branstad.

It is wildly inappropriate for a sitting governor to encourage all citizens to pray and repent. A governor’s proclamations may not be legally binding, but one like Branstad’s sends a clear message: atheists – and even non-Christians – are not favored by his administration.

So apparently Branstad, a practicing Catholic, had to put his faith on the shelf when he took office.  It is wildly inappropriate of Americans United that a sitting Governor can’t issue an invitation.  This proclamation was used by the organization.  I don’t recall seeing an official press release, and Governors sign all sorts of proclamations.

It wasn’t coercive or binding.

And whether AU likes it or not there is a rich American tradition for doing this, as President George Washington on October 3, 1789 issued a proclamation of public thanksgiving and prayer.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Then you have Abraham Lincoln’s famous proclamation on August 6, 1863:

It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people and to vouchsafe to the Army and the Navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life, limb, health, and liberty, incurred by brave, loyal, and patriotic citizens. Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows:

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day of August next, to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship and in the forms approved by their own consciences render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation’s behalf and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the paths of repentance and submission to the divine will back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 15th day of July, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.

Even President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation that would probably make AU’s skin crawl on November 5, 1963.

Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.

So too when the colonies achieved their independence, our first President in the first year of his first Administration proclaimed November 26, 1789, as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God” and called upon the people of the new republic to “beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue . . . and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

And so too, in the midst of America’s tragic civil war, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November 1863 as a day to renew our gratitude for America’s “fruitful fields,” for our “national strength and vigor,” and for all our “singular deliverances and blessings.”

Much time has passed since the first colonists came to rocky shores and dark forests of an unknown continent, much time since President Washington led a young people into the experience of nationhood, much time since President Lincoln saw the American nation through the ordeal of fraternal war–and in these years our population, our plenty and our power have all grown apace. Today we are a nation of nearly two hundred million souls, stretching from coast to coast, on into the Pacific and north toward the Arctic, a nation enjoying the fruits of an ever-expanding agriculture and industry and achieving standards of living unknown in previous history. We give our humble thanks for this.

Yet, as our power has grown, so has our peril. Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers–for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.

Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.

Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, 55 Stat. 862 (5 U.S.C. 87b), designating the fourth Thursday of November in each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1963, as a day of national thanksgiving.

On that day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-eighth.

Even President Barack Obama has participated in prayer events at the White House.

I for one am thankful that Governor Branstad did this and chose to participate in the event.  His prclamation and attendance is not an establishment of religion, nor does it infringe on the rights of those who do not believe, and it is ludicrous to say otherwise.  When Americans United attacks you can be sure that Governor Branstad did something right.

1 comment
  1. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

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