Public Prayer

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Jeremy Seth, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Jeremy Seth

    Jeremy Seth
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    "He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination." Proverbs 28:9

    I tend to be displeased when a public prayer is taken out of more and more functions. In my cadet corps, the public prayer spoken over the speaker at every formation and meal has turned into "Please pause for a moment of silence, meditation, or prayer." We have maintained a prayer before each football game.

    Should the non-Christian be encouraged to pray?
    Is there a distinction between the "sinner's prayer" and others?
    Should we in the name of religious liberty work to maintain these public prayers, or support removal of them?
     
  2. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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    Tricky question. I think all persons should be encouraged to cry out to God for salvation and hope, but I don't think we should encourage non-believers to pretend to be believers in public acts of propriety that have no meaning other than being a group event.

    If prayer is really addressing God, why would we want to dishonor God with false prayers, meaningless words, vain repetitions, and practiced propriety? There is no awe of God in perfunctory prayer, whether within the confines of a church or in a public, "secular" setting.

    I could go on a tangent to talk about the idol that is called the "sinner's prayer," but I think that all prayers are appeals to the One Who is greater than all. I don't draw a lot of distinctions between the prayer that occurs around the decisive moment when one seals their transition from death into life and all the prayers along the journey from the cradle to the grave - both inside and outside of the Kingdom of God.

    The issue for me is not whether they are "public," but rather that they are state-sponsored, endorsed, facilitated, and/or prompted. If Christians are praying in public or private, they government should have no say in it unless it takes others captive in some way (including time or required presence). We have a secular government - from the very beginning - and we should not mingle the two.

    That's been the historic Baptist position since the beginning of the Baptist movement.
     
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  3. Jeremy Seth

    Jeremy Seth
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    Not in a pluralistic sense, correct?

    I really appreciate the chance to engage with you, my stances have been challenged.
    Do you have recommended texts to share on this topic, against the David Barton crowd?
     
  4. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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    Yes, that was my intended meaning. Thanks for calling it out for clarification.

    That's how it is supposed to work around here. There are some wise people who have had experiences and gained wisdom that you and I have not had the opportunity to gain. We are here to help each other.

    Excellent question. I wrote a number of things years ago exposing Barton's bad videos and books, but I haven't done much in the last 20 years. Many of my files disappeared when an old hard drive crashed.

    I know of a number of others who have written along these lines. I'll see what I can find online and post that information here.

    FWIW, if you go read many of the Supreme Court decisions that are quoted - they are readily available online nowadays - the Justices often quote extensively from history explaining the story of the foundations of the religious liberty doctrine in the United States. Its solid stuff.
     
  5. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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    Here are a number of critiques of Barton that come from various viewpoints. Read several of them and notice what they agree on and the diverse backgrounds of the writers. If a diverse group of people all agree on some things, they may be something to it.

    But most importantly, don't rely on other people to do your thinking and research for you. Check out some of the claims for yourself by looking at original sources. It is quite easy to do today from your computer. Back in the 1990s when I first starting confronting Barton's work, I had to spend long hours in the library research department, looking through large dusty books. Ironically, Barton lives about 10 miles down the road, so I almost certainly was looking at the same copies of books that he used in the Fort Worth Public Library downtown.

    Here are a few links that can be helpful:

    From the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (a coalition for Baptist groups from around the United State - although not the Southern Baptist Convention - concerned with the historic Baptist beliefs in this area)

    From Americans United for Separation of Church and State (generally a left-leaning group, but they have a diverse membership).

    From John David Wilsey of Liberty University (I have only skipped this one, but it looks solid)

    From the Journal of Church and State

    Religion Dispatches - "Selling the Idea of a Christian Nation"

    First Things

    History News Network - "The Least Credible History Book in Print?"

    More detail for link above


    Overview of Barton and his teachings/activities/positions from Texas Freedom Network
     
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  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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