The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Wright's Right

I received an e-mail the other day that included a prayer spoken by a Reverend Wright at the opening of the Kansas Legislature on January 23. The e-mail asked that I forward this to my entire address book. Anything that asks this of me is immediately checked by the Urban Legend folks at -where the entire prayer was printed with the following comment:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you to ask your forgiveness. We seek your direction and your guidance. We know your word says, "Woe to those who call evil good." But that's what we've done.
We've lost our spiritual equilibrium. We have inverted our values. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

We've exploited the poor and called it a lottery. We've neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of right to life, we have killed abortionists.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it taxes. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, oh, God, and know our hearts today. Try us. Show us any wickedness within us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of the State of Kansas, and that they have been ordained by you to govern this great state.

Grant them your wisdom to rule. May their decisions direct us to the center of your will. And, as we continue our prayer and as we come in out of the fog, give us clear minds to accomplish our goals as we begin this Legislature. For we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Rev. Wright had been invited to serve as the House's guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright's church. Accordingly, Rev. Wright composed a prayer, read it at the opening of the legislature on January 23, and departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.

Reportedly, one Democrat (not "a number of legislators") walked out in protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright's prayer, and another blasted Wright's "message of intolerance." House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (also a Democrat) asserted that the prayer "reflects the extreme, radical views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year." Rep. Jim Long, a Democrat from Kansas City, said that Wright "made everyone mad." But Rep. Powell, who had invited Wright in the first place, claimed that House Democrats were only trying to make political points with their criticism and affirmed that he supported the theme of the prayer.

Rev. Wright said afterwards: "I certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals, but I don't apologize for the truth." His staff stopped counting the telephone calls that came from every state and many foreign countries after the first 6,500. Wright appeared on dozens of radio shows and was the subject of numerous TV and print news reports, and his prayer stirred up controversy all over again when it was read by the chaplain coordinator in the Nebraska legislature the following month. Wright later explained, "I thought I might get a call from an angry congressman or two, but I was talking to God, not them. The whole point was to say that we all have sins that we need to repent -- all of us . . . The problem, I guess, is that you're not supposed to get too specific when you're talking about sin."

What to make of all the fuss? Syndicated religion columnist Terry Mattingly probably explained it best when he wrote: "The easy answer is that he read a prayer about sin. The complicated answer is that Wright jumped into America's tense debate about whether some things are always right and some things are always wrong."

Some people get upset when politics intrude into religion; others are irritated when religion intrudes into politics. As in war, the "intruder" is always the guy on the other side.

Additional information:

Joe Wright (Central Christian Church)

Pastor Wright's Prayer of Repentance (MP3 format)

Last updated: 21 June 2000"

I always wonder at the Religious Right. They seem to know those tenets upon which their faith is based, but choose among those tenets those beliefs they want to pursue. They conveniently forget the Apostle's admonition to remain apart from the world. (Apart from the World means not mixing in with, not taking sides with, for or against 'the world,' rather than trying to change it, to 'fix' it, to 'help' God. .)

They overlook the instruction to 'be you not presumptuous' and presume they are acting in God's behalf, when, indeed, God has not requested, nor does he need, help from his believers on His Purpose. His Purpose includes the exercise by humans of the Free Will each of us was given, that each of us is responsible to God - not to some church or to some government. To legislate personal morality decisions is to steal this Free Will from the personal lives of everyone who must live under such laws. This is, in fact, tampering with God's Purpose. It is not up to God's followers to judge what is right and what is wrong. That's God's job. God is the only one to read the hearts, to know the minds of others. Anyone who presumes to do this for God is being the presumptuous the scriptures warn against.

I believe in God, but these people do not speak for me.



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