Prayer, Plain and Simple

“God, bless the Irish Atheists…”


No tongue in cheek here. Truly… it’s the right response…


News today: An Irish atheist group is challenging a new law against blasphemy by publishing on its website 25 quotations it claims mock God.  The law took effect on New Year’s Day, making blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (around $36,000).


Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland calls the new statute “both silly and dangerous,” and his group is protesting it by publishing quotations from Jesus, Mohammed, Pope Benedict XVI, US guitarist Frank Zappa, Indian-British novelist Salman Rushdie, British comedy troupe Monty Python, former Northern Ireland first minister Ian Paisley and Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.


Ahern is the group’s true target. He introduced the law earlier this year as a reform of a 1961 defamation law. Ireland’s 1937 constitution says the “publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.” This 2010 modification clarifies the original language which (given its place in the nation’s constitution) cannot be abolished without a referendum.


“We believe in the golden rule,” said Nugent, “That we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas.” The atheists’ group wants lawmakers to remove all references to God from the constitution.


What should Christians say to this, and the many other challenges rising now against our culture’s historical roots in Christianity? We should fight. The question isn’t “if” we resist this mockery, but “how?”


It’s an ancient debate, of course, this question of the faith/state relationship. Europe has historically answered this tension one way while we in America answer it another. In America our Founders recognized a clear distinction between church and state, refusing to make any religious institution “official” while ensuring the right of groups of individuals to practice faith according to conscience. In dividing church and state, the Founders did not, however separate faith and state. They built forms of government utterly dependent on the values and virtues grounding Judeo-Christian traditions. Without the moral fabric of our Christian history, they said, our Republic would fall into decay and drift into an anarchy of libertinism, far removed from the Liberty they envisioned.


So yes, Christians must battle against the secularists’ new bold vehemence to removing faith from state. We must make this a fight. But how? By matching argument for argument? By championing new laws for the respect of faith? By boycotting Hollywood? Perhaps. But I believe this battle will not be won using natural weapons of influence political, philosophical, intellectual, social. I believe this is a supernatural battle that must be won in prayer. God can be not be proven, but he can be experienced and known. Today, let’s pray for those who doubt God, that they may meet him and know him in all his goodness and mercy.

“God, you are, and you are good. You made us curious and independent yet only able to fulfill our destiny when we turn our imagination toward you and choose to be dependent on your infinite power and love. We pray today for all those who doubt your reality. Show them your love. Impose yourself on them, with firmness and kindness. Surprise them with your joy and the freedom they all so passionately long for. In Jesus…”

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