That sound that you're hearing is the resonance of prayer becoming indistinguishable from the din of just another negative campaign ad. A coalition of social conservative groups took to the Internet in recent days to host an online "prayercast" titled "Government Takeover of Health Care." To be sure, abortion was on the minds of the organizers, which included such organizations as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. But what's sad, and even a bit shocking, is that the overt religious objection to specific health reform provisions didn't end there. Folks were asked to pray over the "significant threats" we face from supposedly higher taxes, health rationing, and against "our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care," according to the organizers. Gosh, I hadn't realized God had announced positions on taxes. And I somehow missed His coming out against the public option. I guess I am uninformed: I need someone to educate me as to the Scriptures in which I can find God's specific policy pronouncements. For that matter, are His position papers included in the New, or the Old Testament? While we're at it, I'll have to be sure to see how God scores members of Congress on their votes on climate change, immigration reform, and the Democrats' jobs bill.
Now, I'm not really naive. I've watched conservatives increasingly mix religion and politics all of my adult life. And the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have been among the more influential groups doing so for much of that time. What is novel here, in a very disheartening way, is the new granularity this prayercast represents in trying to put God's heavenly imprimatur on earthbound government. The trajectory this takes will soon have pastors telling their flocks that God has said the estate tax should be so-and-so percent — but no higher. Or that Jesus wants such-and-such government program to be zeroed out. The prayercast organizers try to cast their activity in a more benign light, saying they are merely "obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."
To be sure, our nation has a long and honorable tradition of men and women of the cloth leading Americans to pray for our leaders, that God bestow His blessings upon them. Those prayers, however, historically did not include taking sides for or against those leaders. But the politicians invited to the prayercast were Sens. Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback, as well as Rep. Michele Bachmann — conservative Republicans and staunch health reform opponents all. Not a pro-health reform lawmaker in the group, no pretense of leaving things to God's divine hand here. It is, of course, entirely unfair to portray any policymaker who may have a view that is even slightly at variance with whatever the decreed Christian position on any given issue may be, as going against the word of God . The entire exercise also would seem to devalue Christianity itself. After all, Jesus Christ is a divine source of inspiration, not just another K Street lobbyist. He died on the cross to save His children. He didn't do so to support or oppose any specific piece of legislation.Powered by Sidelines