Thursday, April 16, 2009

Metro Council's Annual Attempt to Take the Closet Out of Prayer

It has been a while since Metro Council conservatives have tried to join the war on Christmas or to turn zoning disputes into liberal neighborhood do-gooders against innocent churches, but you had to know they were eventually going to start the next culture war diversion to get away from their actual responsibilities as laid out by the Metro Charter.

At next Tuesday night's council meeting, Jim Hodge (The Churches of Christ), Randy Foster (The Churches of Christ), Jim Gotto (The Churches of Christ), and Robert Duvall (fundamentalist Baptist) introduce a memorializing resolution designed to pander to the theocratic right-wing in Nashville that will do nothing to advance the economic and communal quality of life in the city itself. The MR says:
WHEREAS, May 7, 2009, is the 58th Annual National Day of Prayer; and

WHEREAS, the religious freedom guaranteed us by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the diversity of faiths practiced in America have made our land a beacon for people who seek freedom to worship according to their conscience; and

WHEREAS, Americans of every race, background and creed come together in their places of worship, homes and work places to pray for guidance, wisdom and courage; and

WHEREAS, just as we rely on prayer for courage, hope and renewal in our private lives, so too do we turn to prayer at times of joy, crises, economic uncertainty and tragedy in our public life as a Nation, a State and a City; and

WHEREAS, Congress, by Public Law 100-307, has called on our citizens to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society by recognizing annually a “National Day of Prayer” and many of our Nation’s Presidents have asked us to pray for our Nation; and

WHEREAS, at this time in our history, we are especially mindful of the heroic men and women serving in our Armed Forces, especially those serving abroad for their safety, for the recovery of the wounded, and for the peace we will seek and their families; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council recognizes the 58th Annual National Day of Prayer as May 7, 2009, and encourage all residents to pray and request of their Creator, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our HOPE in you” – Psalm 33:22.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as proclaiming May 7, 2009, as National Day of Prayer.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.
In spite of the sponsors' ultra conservative church affiliations, their action actually violates the same Bible that the churches from which these men hail purport to follow.

Can I get a witness, Jesus?
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them .... 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 can be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your closet and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees you will reward you .... When you are praying do not heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Not only does the council's latest culture war resolution heap up self-aggrandizing, wheedling phrases to suit the vanity of conservatives, but it is an exercise in hollow piety inconsistent with Jesus's dominant views of prayer itself. These council members are attempting to impose a splinter ideology in the guise of civil religion at odds with founding teachings the ideology claims to follow.

How are they not being the very hypocrites that Jesus himself excoriates? And keep in mind that Hodge's, Foster's, and Gotto's "undenominational" denomination, The Churches of Christ, claims to have no central executive because Jesus Christ himself is their executive. So, why aren't they listening to him on prayer?

In the end, Jesus never teaches proclaiming an Annual National Day of Prayer, and if these self-proclaimed Christians are to truly follow his teachings, then they should be exercising humility, contrition, and even shame at even being tempted to speak of prayer publicly as they intend to do next Tuesday. If they don't feel lead to repent, they should at least apologize to Metro taxpayers for wasting our resources to draft, to seek lawyers' opinions on, to call to committee, and to introduce to council a bill that will not help make Nashville a better place. What a waste of money; what a waste of faith.


  1. If you are going to quote the words of Christ please do not paraphrase and understand what you are putting out there. Christ was talking about not making a spectecle of ourselves when we pray, like the hypocrites did in the synagogues they did that so as to say look at me I'm important. And that is not what the National Day of Prayer is about. No one has said we have to pray on that day or how to pray for that fact. So please do not pick one part of a verse of the Bible and make it fit what you aare trying to defend.

  2. So please do not pick one part of a verse of the Bible and make it fit what you aare trying to defend.

    Why not? That's what the "other side" does all the time.

  3. Christ was talking about not making a spectecle of ourselves when we pray, like the hypocrites did in the synagogues they did that so as to say look at me I'm important.

    That's one anonymous person's interpretation. I prefer to take Jesus at his literal word here rather than heeding some random interpreter's strained, metaphorical reading of the closet teaching.