Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prayer and Politics

I’ve already talked about President Obama a bit in relation to religion, let alone the racism that still persists in small amounts. This time, it’s not so specific. Instead of claiming Barack Obama is a Muslim or questioning his Christian credentials, now people have started praying for him, though I dunno what exactly they’re praying for, since at least a few groups advocate it in the vein of Psalm 109:8. When they say you should pray for Obama, maybe they should reconsider the one based in Psalm 109: 8. It says in context of the Psalm as a whole that the leader they speak who should not rule long and be replaced by another is a servant of Satan and that they wish death upon him implicitly. Is this a Christian thing to do, even if this is derived from Jewish tradition of ketuvim (writings of wisdom, etc)? There are verses in Christian thought that allow compassionate prayer for an official in power, such as 1st Timothy 2:1-2. Since many people seem to think Obama is ungodly, Christian or not, do they advocate something bad happening to him, God opening his eyes, or, if they agree with him, that God protect him? It all gets a bit complex, though I imagine a lot of it gets into the nature of what Christians believe in regards to people in government and God putting them there allegedly, basing it on Romans 13:1. Pastor Jeffress apparently recanted in part about his own issues I mentioned last week with telling people to vote for a Christian by saying “it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces un-biblical values.” This is one of the fundamental things about Christian voters I observe: they focus entirely on values instead of even remotely on policies unrelated to those values or consider them without moralizing fixation on whether abortion should be illegalized or just limited, for example. This isn’t the case for all, but it doesn’t help when the loudest voice speaking is also the most divisive in Christian involvement with politics.

Understanding even a bit about the general practices of Christians in terms of their prayers for candidates is especially germane. Christians have the notion that the candidates are put in place by God, but for a few reasons. Probably one of the most common is to motivate the faithful to campaign in some way, shape or form against the leader’s immoral/non Christian policies and such. This is especially the case with those that believe the end times are upon us and that corruption will spread across the world. But nonetheless, Christians are told not to hold ill will against the leaders ultimately, which, if taking the Psalm 109 prayer for Obama into account, isn’t applied so consistently. Many Christians forget that God is the ultimate judge in their system and start making rash claims like “Obama is the Anti Christ,” even though there have been many presidents before him no doubt predicted and speculated to be the most derided person in the Bible next to Satan/Diabolos. Heck, the term is used outside the Revelation context, like 1 John, to suggest that anyone who isn’t Christian is against Jesus. That mentality of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” remains fairly popular with the masses and isn’t dissuaded by well meaning and somewhat more understanding pastors, ministers and theologians who say that we can disagree and remain civil. The worst part of this is that the masses are likely to believe prayer has power and thus their prayers, even if they don’t work, reflect a bad tendency that I hope isn’t the case with the Psalm 109 bumper sticker mentioned earlier.

With prayer, there are a few things they wish upon the president, none of which is ultimately secure, though I suppose that’s part of praying to something that might as well not be there (to outsiders). They pray for wisdom, for protection, and for advancement of values they believe are held by non Christians as well. At least they’re being somewhat fair minded about that subject. On the Presidential Prayer Team website, which is the most prominent examples of people praying for presidents as far back as George W. Bush, it seems, they admit openly that there are values held by even “liberals” that “conservatives” like themselves advocate, though I can imagine you could polarize the issue a lot in terms of hot button issues like abortion rights, gay marriage and freedom of/from religion for just three among many others. Nonetheless, there is at least some bridging of the gap, so this isn’t so much the “us” and “them” mentality that the congregations manifest from time to time.

Fundamentally the problem lies with something much deeper. Like Rick Perry and his call to pray for help instead of trying to fix problems without pleading to entities that may not exist or care about humanity if they do, this praying for the government is a waste of time that, while they have a right to do it, I don’t think benefits anyone in the long run, but only instills a sense of delusion that prayer is your first solution to problems instead of action. One can pray when you have downtime, perhaps, but to pray in any time of crisis instead of initially acting with survival as your prime concern is a mistaken order of priority. No one’s stopping you from praying, contrary to the sensationalizing of protests by the FFRF against school sponsored prayer in the news. But praying for the president is the least of your concerns as opposed to praying for the country as a whole, right? But even if you think praying for the country will do you any good, wouldn’t it be better to devote time and energy to actually trying to change the country instead of sitting around getting encouragement from a sense of piety along with patriotism. The two don’t need each other and even Jesus says so; “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s” Matthew 22:21. Or a more pertinent one for rapture eager believers, which didn’t happen October 21st (surprise!): “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But now (or 'as it is') my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36). Until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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