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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Saint Dubya, pray for us.

Terry Mattingly at GetReligion says he saw something intriguing at the North American Christian Convention —"the largest event held each year by America's independent Christian Churches":

On one of the quieter halls of the convention center was a small room set aside for private prayer. Since this was a Protestant gathering, the room contained no traditional religious art. Yet there was an icon, of sorts. Over on a low table was a framed portrait of President George W. Bush, with a candle in front of it. The meaning was clear — pause here to pray specifically for our president.

Idolatry alert!

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 15 July 2004 at 6:00 PM

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July 15, 2004 09:54 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm disinclined to leap to judgment about the presence of Bush's picture without first ascertaining who put it there and what they hoped to accomplish. Perhaps that's desperately naive of me, but I had to work through my own automatic cringe two months ago when typing up Evening Prayer texts for the diocesan anniversary celebration, as one of the standard prayers from the 19th century liturgy was for the POTUS (and it was left in for the celebration). I had to remind myself that it's not necessarily a partisan thing to pray for the Commander-in-Chief, no matter whether one approves of his actions or deplores them, but I agree that praying to would be unacceptable.

That said, though, I confess that I'm weirded out by


July 16, 2004 08:28 AM | Permalink for this comment

I can't imagine a similiar room set up this way at the same conference for President Clinton or President Kerry. The Book of Common Prayer includes a prayer for office-holders, but gives no real opportunity to treat a particular office-holder as God's choice. That's where something has gone seriously wrong in the way some U.S. Christians respond to non-churchgoer George W. Bush.


July 16, 2004 01:37 PM | Permalink for this comment

Actually, GWB is indeed a church-goer; see this story. He was raised Episcopalian and married Methodist.


July 17, 2004 10:02 AM | Permalink for this comment

Actually, this convention has a left wing -- that was my point in mentioning the prayer maze. This seemed rather conflicted. Perhaps.

Meanwhile, if you were at a meeting of the Disciples of Christ they would have had a framed prayer photo of John Kerry -- at this summer's convention.

Red pews, blue pews.


July 17, 2004 08:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

Terry, having just finished writing about the annual convention of the liberal Unitarian Universalist Association for the denominational magazine where I'm an editor, I have to say that I don't believe the liberal denominations would have rooms set aside in such blatantly partisan a way.

The UUA's General Assembly 4,700 people in Long Beach, California, with absolutely no media coverage was unmistakably anti-Bush. A small handful of the vendors in the exhibition hall were marketing political kitsch. But even though UUs have embraced candles, chanting, labyrinths, gongs and Tibetan prayer bowls, even praise songs and PowerPoint in worship, nowhere was there anything quite like a framed photo of John Kerry set up like a shrine.

I don't think you would find such a shrine at the annual meeting of the UCC, the American Baptists, or any other liberal mainline church, either. The labyrinth may be everywhere, but I don't buy it that prayer shrines to American presidents have taken hold across the religious landscape. Maybe we liberals install our idols in our hearts and minds which simply suggests that an enterprising religion reporter would have to go looking into the different ways religious Americans attach religious meaning to political figures.

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