Progressive Revival

Another prayer controversy – and it doesn’t involve either Warren or Robinson. 

Should Obama say the words “So help me God” as he is sworn in on Tuesday? Obama wants to, a group of atheists doesn’t.  The atheist group is suing to stop it, but they also sued George W. Bush, so it is equal partisian effort. The fact is that the oath that is required by the constitution does not include the words in it.  Does that mean Barack Obama can’t say them?  I don’t think so.  While I appreciate that many people worrry about mixing poltics and religion – this doesn’t force anyone to believe anything – just a leader, asking for God’s help.

LIsa Miller from Newsweek makes this point in her article

What we think of, then, as the conventional religiosity of Inaugurations is conventional only by recent standards–and conventions, as Obama well knows, can change. According to an affidavit by Jeffrey Minear, chief of staff to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is the defendant in the lawsuit, Obama wants to say “so help me God”–and by all means, he should do so. The public prayers by two Christian ministers are more problematic. Today, the greatest threats to our safety come not from godless communists but from religious fundamentalists abroad. Our new president might use his Inauguration then to showcase the values that have made this country great: pluralism, moderation–and the separation of church and state. Though not as politically expedient, the better choice might be to pray in private.

I think you can show pluralism best by having prayers from many different tradtions in concert with one another, and this combats fundamentalism much more effectively than people praying in private.

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