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Kline, Bachmann say they’re disappointed Obama ‘downplayed’ Prayer Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann gathered with members of the bipartisan prayer caucus and religious leaders today to celebrate National Day of Prayer and express disappointment over a perceived lack of presidential interest in the day’s commemorative activities.

“Many of us who are in the bipartisan congressional prayer caucus believe that recognizing and underscoring the deep and rich religious history, frankly the Judeo-Christian history, with our founders is an important part of America and this place,” Kline said after the event.

“I was surprised that President Obama announced that he was not going to participate in National Day of Prayer. I think his predecessor would have been very surprised at that so I am a little disappointed,” Kline added.

President Truman began the National Day of Prayer 57 years ago. Eight years ago, President George W. Bush began holding public ceremonies to recognize the day. This year, Obama toned down the presidential participation by signing a proclamation in private and then continuing with other business.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that it was not because Obama thought that the event had become politicized and said that the president understands the role prayer plays.

But, religious leaders present at the prayer caucus ceremony on Thursday ventured to disagree.

“I also say, respectfully, that we are disappointed in the lack of emphasis on prayer on this National Day of Prayer,” said James Dobson, well-known evangelical author and radio host. “This is our history, and in recent years certainly, there has been a White House presence, but there is not today.”

In his proclamation, the president stated: “It is in that spirit of unity and reflection that we once again designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.  Let us remember those who came before us, and let us each give thanks for the courage and compassion shown by so many in this country and around the world … As we observe this day of prayer, we remember the one law that binds all great religions together:  the Golden Rule, and its call to love one another; to understand one another; and to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Mike Haubrich on 05/07/2009 - 06:47 pm.

    As a participant in the National Day of Reason, I listened to speakers (and even spoke myself) in the Rotunda of the Capitol; specifically on the constitutional separation of state and church (implied) in the Establishment Clause. The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists and the Humanists of Minnesota.

    While we are disappointed that President Obama signed what Jefferson (and Governor Ventura) would refuse to sign on the principles of a secular republic, we are encouraged that he didn’t promote nor participate in NDOP. The people who push the NDOP should perhaps read this verse from their Gospel of Matthew (6:5-6)

    And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.

  2. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 05/07/2009 - 07:51 pm.

    Jesus’s definition of hypocrites fits Bachmann, Kline, and the rest of the prayer crybabies to a T. Not only do they make a show of how prayerful they are, they make a show of pointing out who’s not prayerful and god-fearing like them. Gag me.

  3. Submitted by John Roach on 05/07/2009 - 10:42 pm.

    For the last eight years we have had a President that used prayer for political purposes. Many secular and religious groups-notably the Catholic, Methodist and Episcopal churches-decried this practice.

    Obama has returned to the common practice of nearly every president since Eisenhower by issuing a proclamation and continuing to get his work done, instead of trying to make political points with his piety.

    Of course Bachmann and Kline have turned worship into raw and disgusting political theater–this is what such creatures do.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/08/2009 - 10:11 am.

    Once again, those who most publicly proclaim how “Christian” they are, ignore the words of Jesus himself as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

    “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. [Matthew 6:5-6]

    What was that, again, about Christian Fundamentalists taking the Bible literally and following it to the letter?

  5. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/08/2009 - 04:49 pm.

    So “our history” is Judeo-Christian only, and not the rich variety of beliefs (or non-beliefs) brought to America by other immigrant groups or existing here already among the native tribes?

    The religious right has had way too much success at evangelization-via-government over the past eight years. Amy Goodman, on May 7’s Democracy Now, reminded me of the current Pentagon practice of training soldiers in subtle methods of proselytization of the populations of countries like Iraq (to “be Jesus” to them). We intrude with not just our presence but a thoroughly improper use of the military to convert free people from their own religion to a similar right-wing version of Christianity.

    Our Constitution has been harmed in many ways. Thanks, Mr. Obama, for not continuing this one.

  6. Submitted by James Cullum on 05/09/2009 - 10:10 am.

    Matthew 6:5-7 from the King James version. I don’t know if Bachmann & Kline would recognize the New International. Oddly, most fundamentalists don’t seem to pay much attention to this passage.

    5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

  7. Submitted by Susan Peterson on 05/09/2009 - 02:47 pm.

    Amen to Terry, John, Greg and James.

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