Today has been designated as the National Day of Prayer and Christian conservatives have decided to use the day to launch all sorts of absurd attacks against President Obama. Rather than spend their time in actual prayer, it seems that they have decided that politically motivated attacks would suffice. Apparently they are upset because they expected much more than the President's proclamation honoring the day. In their attacks they pretend that he is somehow departing from presidential custom by not holding a formal event at the White House today. In fact, George W. Bush was probably the first to regularly hold such formal events on the National Day of Prayer. It seems pretty clear that the fake outrage is being used as just another politically calculated opportunity to attack the President.
Just take a moment to look at the type of the venomous attacks that are being launched at the President simply for not being George W. Bush:
Wife of James Dobson, Shirley Dobson doubted whether "…our President would recognize more fully the importance of prayer." I'm not sure how his proclamation wasn't good enough but in any case it is very sad that Mrs. Dobson apparently needs a political figure to reaffirm her personal beliefs in "the importance of prayer."
Wendy Wright, head of the extremely right wing Concerned Women for America made her attacks on the President much more personal saying that while "President Obama may have problems believing in the Christian faith, he should at least honor the traditions and foundation of our country." Is she seriously pretending to know the most personal beliefs and thoughts of the President? Exactly how does she think that she knows what is in his heart? Is her vile attack only political or was it simply personal because she wasn't invited to the White House today?
All of the hysteria even had one guest on Fox and Friends apparently thinking that President Obama was somehow interfering with her right to "gather and pray as we see fit." What? Just because he didn't hold a formal White House event you are somehow limited in your ability to "gather and pray"? The condition of the religious right really must be in a sad state of affairs if they really believe such things.
This whole manufactured controversy is just the latest unfortunate example of how too many conservative Christians (particularly protestant evangelicals) have allowed their faith to be totally and completely polluted with partisan politics. Don't take it from me, just look at some of the things that conservative evangelical and former Bush Administration official David Kuo said back in 2006.
"God and politics had become very much fused together into a sort of a single entity. Where, in a way, politics was the fourth part of the trinity. God the father, God the son, God the holy spirit, God the politician," says Kuo.
Asked if in retrospect this was morally wrong, Kuo says, "I feel like it was more spiritually wrong. You're taking the sacred and you're making it profane. You're taking Jesus and reducing him to some precinct captain, to some get-out-the-vote guy."
"I have this burden on my heart that the name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics," Kuo says. "
I am probably on the complete opposite side of both the political and theological spectrum from Kuo, but in this case I think that his concerns have been completely accurate. Although I have been a personal witness to some of their good deeds, it seems that as the political power of the religious right has increased they have also been drawn away from their foundation. The example around this year's National Day of Prayer could serve as a perfect example of that real tragedy. From what I have been able to observe, all-too-many of their leaders have been going down a path that looks more like the example of the Pharisees than that of Christ.