Splitting Hairs on Religion

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By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Houston asked Rev. Scott Rainey to offer the invocation at the Houston National Cemetery this Memorial Day weekend along with the stipulation his prayer be subjected to approval and editing. According to a story by Terri Langford in the Houston Chronicle, Rev. Rainey was originally told he couldn’t use the words “Jesus Christ” at the close of his prayer; they have since relented.

“Rainey’s prayer, less than a page long, includes the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and closes with one reference to Jesus: “While respecting people of every faith today, it is in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that I pray. Amen.

Rainey was instructed by the cemetery to submit his prayer for review a month ago. Cemetery director Arleen Ocasio then emailed Rainey on May 19, informing the pastor that the prayer was still in need of editing.”

The issue of whether or not individuals have the right to express religious views in public has been under fire and likely the powers of darkness will never cease their attempts to eradicate references to God or His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ; however the Supreme Court has on previous occasions upheld an individual’s constitutional protection of free speech in the public square, even on religious matters.

“The government cannot gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat’s notion of cultural homogeneity,” (U.S. District Judge Lynn) Hughes wrote in his order, granting the Rev. Scott Rainey’s motion for the court to intercede. “The right to free expression ranges from the dignity of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches to Charlie Sheen’s rants.”

However, even with the dispute seemingly defused, others were not especially pleased; expressing less enthusiastic reservations. An old Ricky Nelson tune comes to mind, “You see you can’t please everyone, so, you have to please yourself…”

Rabbi Mark J. Miller, of Congregation Beth Israel, called Rainey’s prayer “beautiful,” but said that “it is a prayer to which I and many others cannot say ‘Amen.'”

I once heard a wonderfully related story about a good Christian who’d been invited to a Jewish family meal. Being a close friend and honored guest, the fellow was asked to bless the meal, “…but please respect my insistence that you not close your prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ,” the host quietly implored. Had there not been considerable mutual respect, such an opportunity could not have come about and so the blessing was carried out; carefully and thoughtfully ending, “…in the name of the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob and the God of Isaac, Amen.”

At the close of the prayer the host added his “Amen.” He then smiled toward his friend, adding, “You did it any way, didn’t you?” Would it have mattered had that prayer ended, “in the name of Nature’s God,” “Our Creator” or “the Prince of Peace;” don’t they all refer to the same Individual?

Memorial Day serves as an opportunity to consider the miraculous journey our nation has had from its inception. We recognize God’s hand in all things; Providence acknowledged in securing victory and preserving us a nation. He is the source of comfort as we honor those who gave their all in defending liberty.

When we close our prayer, “in the name of Jesus Christ,” withhold your “Amen” if you must; but isn’t that narrow minded? A form of ingratitude seeing as your Creator and mine happen to be one and the same?

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”

3 thoughts on “Splitting Hairs on Religion

  1. When we close our prayer, “in the name of Jesus Christ,” withhold your “Amen” if you must; but isn’t that narrow minded? A form of ingratitude seeing as your Creator and mine happen to be one and the same?.

    It’s the reverse. If, like me, you don’t believe that Jesus is the same as “He Who spake and the worlds came into being”, then saying “Amen” would the same thing as praying to a being who is not the Creator. When you pray “in Jesus’s name” you are not praying to the same Being that I call God.

    Many years ago, in college, I used to sing as part of the choir at a non denominational Christian service held every Sunday morning on campus. I was friends with several of the regular attendees, the choir needed all the singers it could get, and there was not much else to do on Sunday morning. My friends used to get a kick out of how I recited the Creed. “I believe in one God, Father Almighty….and NOT in his only begotten son….and NOT in the Holy Spirit….” I didn’t make a fuss about it, simply said the word “not” like I said the rest of the Creed, so only my immediate neighbors would hear it. But it’s an important point, and far from splitting a hair, it’s the fundamental difference between Christians and Jews. You Christians believe Jesus is God; we Jews don’t.

  2. “When you pray “in Jesus’s name” you are not praying to the same Being that I call God.”

    Can’t you say the same about Allah?

  3. As a Jew I dont have a problem with a Christian minister speaking at a public event. I would hope that a Rabbi would be extended the same courtesy though. If he declined then the Jewish population has no right to complain. Would hope that a Rabbi would accept though, especially on such a important and meaningful occasion

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