Atheist ‘Prays’ in Greece, New York
That headline looks like an amalgamation of things that don’t belong together, doesn’t it? Not only do we have the name of a nation within the name of a state in the United States, we have an atheist associated with prayer. That’s what happens in a world where the insanity of liberalism has been allowed to flourish.
The tradition of prayer before a government body conducts its business predates our country. When the First Continental Congress met in 1774, the body asked Reverend Jacob Duché to pray for them. Rev. Duché said in part:
Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.
This practice of asking God’s wisdom on the deliberation of government bodies continued through the American Revolution, and was also sought out in 1787 when our nation’s founders sat down in Philadelphia to craft the United States Constitution.
One of the least religious members of the delegation, Benjamin Franklin, stated in part:
In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.
Indeed. If the Creator of the universe–the one who created all human beings equal and endowed them with certain inalienable rights–does not miss the falling of a sparrow, can we imagine that He does not care about the deliberations of governmental bodies which create laws, as well as affect the freedom and prosperity of those created in His image?
Of course not.
But in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision reaffirming the right of government bodies to begin their deliberations in prayer, Dan Courtney, an atheist in the town of Greece, New York delivered the invocation before the Town Board Tuesday evening.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, among the things he said was that elected officials should “heed the counsel of the governed; to seek the wisdom of all citizens and to honor the enlightened wisdom and the profound courage” of the founders of American government.
I’m glad that Mr. Courtney acknowledged the wisdom and courage of the founders (few atheists do). Yet it’s a pity that as an atheist, he fails to “honor the enlightened wisdom and the profound courage” of the founders of our nation, the overwhelming majority of whom were Bible-believing Christians. After all, our Constitution and the American way of life never would have existed were it not for the Christian worldview of the founders.
As Christians offer an invocation based on the deeply held fundamental beliefs of their faith, it would be interesting to see an invocation from an atheist that is in keeping with the fundamental beliefs of their faith.
Invocations before government meetings are done, as alluded to by our forefathers, intended to beseech God’s wisdom and providence for what is best for the people represented. Since God is holy and completely devoid of the evil which plagues fallen human beings, we trust in Him that His vision will be best for us. Since God is able to know the future, we trust that He can see things we cannot see and will help us prepare for an unknown future. Since God is all-powerful yet allows for human free will, our prayers typically ask God to exercise his providence in a way which best benefits the people in a given jurisdiction, and that even evil intents may be thwarted and overcome with good.
So I think this statement, or one very much like it, would best sum up the atheist’s hopes in keeping with the traditional purpose of the invocation:
I sure hope things turn out the way I want them to.
As bereft as his invocation was of transcendent connection, it was still better than what it would have been had it tried to emulate a Christian prayer. Because offering the heart and soul of his belief system would be decidedly empty, purposeless and uninspiring.
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