If you have been on Myspace for a while, then you have undoubtedly read several religious bulletins. I wrote a blog recently titled, "Crazy Myspace Bulletins," which examined a popular religious bulletin that has been posted on Myspace several times. I honestly did not think I would find a bulletin more ridiculous than that particular one, but I was wrong. I recently read a bulletin entitled, "Pray for John McCain." This bulletin would appear to a lot of people as nothing more than a sincere prayer from a passionate Christian for God to intervene in the presidential election, and to grant Senator John McCain the victory. But there are many statements in this prayer that are either contradictory, extremely arrogant, or simply not well thought out.
This religious bulletin that I am speaking of is based on the common assumption, by evangelical Christians, that the conservative Republican party is on God's side, while the liberal Democrats are on Satan's side and trying to turn America against the "Word of God." I do not speak about this simply as a skeptic looking in and observing from the outside. No! I was once in the very same group. For six years of my life, from 2000-2006, I was an on-fire, gospel-evangelizing, hellfire-preaching, bible-quoting, sin-hating, crying-on-my-knees-praying, Southern Bbaptist, fundamentalist Christian. I was one of those who literally thought it was a sin to vote for a Democrat. I believed all Democrats were wicked liberals who were opposed to "God's Word" and sought to turn our nation into a cesspool of sin and immorality. I didn't give a damn what a politician stood for, just as long as he opposed embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, and gay marriage. And notice that I said "he" and not "she," because I was brainwashed into the very common Evangelical Christian idea that only men are ordained by God to lead this nation -- not women. And yes, I had Bible verses that I could quote to you to back that up:
1 Timothy 2:12, "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man..."
If you're a woman, please don't get mad. I promise you I don't think this way anymore. I now view these types of Bible passages as archaic bullshit, written thousands of years ago in a world where women were considered second-class citizens compared to men.
After I "got saved" in November 2000, I was baptized the following Sunday morning and became a member of a Southern Baptist Church, just before George W. Bush was elected to his first term as President. Even though it is often said that "Churches should not mix politics with preaching," I remember a prominent member in the church standing behind the pulpit during a Sunday night service and saying to the congregation, "We got the right man in the White House!" Of course his reasoning for why President Bush was "the right man" was due to the fact that George W. Bush agreed with the right-wing, fundamentalist, conservative political agenda. In the end this was the determining factor: Either the candidate supported fundamentalist Christianity or he didn't. Any other "worldly" benefits that a liberal, democratic presidential candidate could accomplish would be nullified in the eyes of these Evangelical Christians, simply by the fact that the Liberal Democrat candidate did not support their religious agenda. For example, let us suppose that the most Liberal Democrat ever were to get elected as the President of the United States. Let's say this President's policies brought about the greatest social and economic changes this country has ever seen (i.e. a complete end to poverty, a complete end to our reliance on foreign oil, an end to all wars, peace with every Muslim nation in the world, etc.). Let's say he brought about all of these great accomplishments, but upheld the Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973 which legalized abortion, and also worked to have gay marriage legalized across the entire country. Despite his great accomplishments, the right-wing Evangelicals would still consider him a terrible president, simply because he didn't support their little pet-peeve "moral" issues. The "moral" issues always trump the social issues for this group. I write the word "moral" in quotation marks, because these "moral" issues are their own making, derived from their personal religious beliefs. Their moral issues are not binding upon everyone, even though they believe their religious rules and statutes are universal moral dictates, straight from the mouth of the Creator of the universe. We do not bow the knee to a group of Muslims who believe the American government should enforce the "moral" principle of requiring women to veil themselves in public. In the same way, the American government is not required to bow the knee to a group of hard-core fundamentalists who believe the bible should dictate our nation's laws. This view that I am speaking against is so blatantly expressed in this bulletin that I am speaking of, which I will comment on.
But before I begin commenting on this bulletin, I want to first make it clear that my criticisms are not directed towards Christianity in general. I am speaking of "fundamentalist" Christianity. What is fundamentalist Christianity? I could go into great detail, but basically it is what comes to mind when you think of someone who goes around knocking on doors, trying to persuade people to convert to their brand of Christianity. If the person does not convert, he/she is going to burn in hell. With this group, you are judged more by your beliefs than by your actions. If you are the best citizen in the community, but do not believe in the tenets of their religion, then Jesus will "grind you to powder" on the day of judgment (Luke 20:18). If you go to church every Sunday, but still go out and have a few beers on the weekends, then you are one of the "lukewarm" Christians whom Jesus will "spew out of his mouth" as if you were something detestable (Revelation 3:16). Over 70% of Americans label themselves as Christians, but only approximately 7% of the American population falls into the group that I am speaking of. This statistic is confirmed by the Barna Research Group (an evangelical research group), and by New York Times bestselling author Christine Wicker, author of "The Fall of the Evangelical Nation." If you are a member of a church, but do not "share the gospel" with your "unsaved" friends and family members on a regular basis, then you are probably a "false convert" and on your way to the pits of damned with all the other sinners, atheists, and unbelievers in the world. This is their worldview. I know this worldview inside and out. I was one of them. It is perfectly reflected in the following bulletin that has recently been posted on Myspace:
Prayer for John McCain and Sarah Palin
Please pass this prayer on right now on behalf of John McCain. Please start prayer chains immediately for the election.
This election can be turned around for the glory of God if we will stop worrying and get on our knees!!! How many people can you pass this on to? Let us pray.
Father, in the name of Jesus, we come to You right now asking for a miracle in this election. Lord, we lift up to You right now Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin. Lord, we ask that You would just wrap Your arms around them and their families at this critical time. Father, we ask for miracle upon miracle in this election. We know that only You can turn the tide of evil in this election. Father, as we await the final days of the election, we ask in complete faith that You would allow the truth to be known across this land Lord, we ask for forgiveness for putting You last. . . Father, please heal our land and homes, allow us to have another chance to love You the way you should be loved. Lord, we ask specifically for John and Sarah's health, wisdom, words, actions and their campaign staff. Lord, we lift them all up to You now. Father, we also specifically ask for the voters in many states who are battleground states. Lord, please convict the hearts of voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado.
Father we beg for every electoral vote. Lord, we lift all of our needs up to You now. In the name of Jesus we claim victory in Your name. Lord, we pray for Your will to be done in a mighty way...we know that this election can and will glorify You! Father, place the man you would have to lead our country in a Christian way on November 4. We love You, Lord. We await Your holy miracles...
In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen
Send this on to as many people as you can think of. . . . .let it reach every corner of America. Get on your knees for this election. . . . Pray for God to send a REVIVAL across this land. Christians, it is time we get on our knees . . . . talk to people, speak up. . . . we've been silent too long.
The first thing to point out is the fact that this prayer did not accomplish anything. This election was one of the biggest blowouts ever. Election night was over before it even began. It says, "This election can be turned around for the glory of God if we will stop worrying and get on our knees !!!" So what was the problem then? I guess there was not quite enough people who "got down on their knees." But according to Jesus you don't need millions of Christians praying in order to accomplish something. He said in Matthew 18:19, "I say unto you that if TWO of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." The only thing to conclude about this is that Jesus was wrong. Millions of people prayed for John McCain to win the election, but it did not happen.
Next, this prayer asks God for "a miracle in this election." So just what kind of miracle are we talking about here? A miracle is something that occurs outside the normal course of nature. So what were these people praying for? For God to scramble the voting machines and give a false voting count in favor of John McCain? Or to make people get up off their couches like zombies and march to the voting polls to vote for McCain? Well, no miracle occurred. Barack Obama decisively won the election. I guess God decided he didn't want to send a miracle after all.
It says, "We know that only You can turn the tide of evil in this election." What is so "evil" in this election? Well, I know exactly what it is, according to the person who wrote this bulletin. It is the fact that Barack Obama is not a Christian fundamentalist. It is the fact that he does not want to force Americans to follow Biblical laws. And thank God (pun intended) that he doesn't! We would look like Iran if that's the view that our government held. The problem is that very few people know the entire bible well enough to realize just how much screwed up stuff is in there. So basically we are "evil" if we do not agree with the baptist/pentecostal preacher who says we are all doomed to hell for not following their fundamentalist version of Christianity. To consider someone evil because he/she doesn't agree with your religion is the epitome of arrogance.
This prayer asks, "Father, we also specifically ask for the voters in many states which are battleground states. Lord, please convict the hearts of voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado." It looks like God completely ignored this prayer request. This prayer didn't accomplish anything. Barack Obama dominated in the battleground states.
Most of the Baptist Christians reading this bulletin do not even realize that is was posted by a pentecostal Christian. You see, a large portion of pentecostal/charismatic Christians embrace a teaching called the "name-it and claim-it" principle. This teaching says that if you pray to God, and then claim that it is done, then it will actually be done for you. For example, let's say that I am on the verge of going bankrupt because of mortgage debt. In this case, I could simply pray to God and say, "God, I know you have already paid off my debt, and I thank you for your kindness and claim this blessing in the name of Jesus." But this prayer doesn't accomplish anything. The creditors will continue calling. And if I don't pay my mortgage payments, they will repossess my house. This prayer says, "In the name of Jesus we claim victory in Your name." Well their "claim for victory" didn't work. Barack Obama won by a landslide.
The last part of this bulletin that I will comment on is the most bizarre. It says, "Lord, we pray for Your will to be done in a mighty way...we know that this election can and will glorify You! Father, place the man you would have to lead our country in a Christian way on November 4." Actually, this is more of a cop-out than it is a bizarre prayer. This prayer is simply a way for them to cover their backs just in case their prayers do not work. It basically says, "God, we want you to get John McCain elected, but if not, then your will be done." Have you ever thought about what it really means when you pray to God and say, "Your will be done"? If we were to translate that, it would say, "God, go ahead and do what you were already planning on doing." In other words, your prayers are meaningless when you say this.
The person writing this bulletin has completely contradicted him or herself. At first, it implies that Barack Obama is an evil candidate, whom God obviously does not approve of. But then it says, "We know that this election can and will glorify You! Father, place the man you would have to lead our country in a Christian way on November 4." Looking at this election in retrospect, it is obvious that Barack Obama IS the man that God would have to "lead our country in a Christian way on November 4." But wait a second. I thought Barack Obama was evil? But God chose him to lead our nation? Get your thoughts straight. This prayer is a complete cop-out, to cover their asses just in case their prayers don't work.
A study was conducted in 2006 on 1800 hospital patients who received coronary bypass surgery. The group was divided into those who received prayer for their healing and recovery, and those who did not receive prayer. In the end, there was no difference at all for the patients who received prayer and those who didn't.
It is what it is.