Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/10

24

When liberals pray

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Opponents of Arizona’s new immigration law have been praying for its reversal in court.  The Wall Street Journal today has a photo of parishioners sitting outdoors on folding chairs at a prayer session for the demise of the law, which asks local police officers to verify the immigration status of individuals they have lawfully stopped if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is in the country illegally.  Church coalitions throughout the country have been urging God as well as politicians for help in dismantling SB 1070. 

If the federal judge now hearing challenges to SB 1070 from the federal government and various advocacy groups overturns key portions of it, all those who have been praying for judicial nullification will claim divine vindication.   How will Glenn Beck, who regularly advises his radio listeners to pray, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Newt Gingrich, and every other conservative figurehead or foot soldier who views belief in God as a central component of conservative identity and who supports stronger immigration enforcement respond?  Did God in fact answer the prayers of SB 1070 opponents?  And if so, why?  Because the opponents were more organized in sending their prayer packets to the great pollster in the sky or because God agreed with them on the merits? 

Or will the conservative believers suddenly incline towards skepticism?  Might they ask such questions as: How do we know that God influenced the judge’s ruling and that it wouldn’t have happened anyway?  Where is the control group of judges whose decisions were not prayed about–how did they rule?  And what about those other judicial rulings that have upheld Arizona’s other  immigration laws—requiring verification of citizenship status to vote, for example, or requiring employers to verify the legal immigration status of their workers—why did God allow those laws to stand and not this one? 

More likely, however, religion-promoting immigration restrictionists will not allow such potential complications to cross their minds at all, and will simply go on to the next issue. 

Of course, if U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton upholds SB 1070, the conservative prayer advocates will appreciate God’s understanding of illegal immigration while the law’s religious opponents will, in theory only, face their own theological conundrums.

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6 comments

  • kurt9 · July 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    You know, no one is more of militant atheist than I am, and I see this as somewhat over the top. This is needless needling of Christians and Christianity. I don’t see the point of this.

    I have a better idea. Leave the Christians alone and focus on doing your own thing in life.

  • Mark in Spokane · July 26, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Or, if someone chooses to attack Christianity, perhaps it would be a good idea, as the late Anthony Flew once recommended, that one learn enough about it to attack it on its strongest ground rather than setting up a straw man to attack? The main reason I think most religious believers find “new atheist” arguments unconvincing is that they don’t ever address the strongest arguments in favor of Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, etc., theology and practice. Flew was one of the few atheist writers I have read who have actually made compelling arguments against religious faith on its strongest grounds. Ms. MacDonald’s rant here would be shredded in an instant by any literate Christian who had read Thomas Aquinas or John Calvin, even in translation, or by any literate Jewish believer who had read Maimonedies.

    By all means, I think it is great to have critiques of religion and religious believers — as Edmund Burke once noted, our opponents are our friends because they make us refine our arguments and re-examine our own ideas.

  • Narr · July 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Mark in Spokane–go to it. The weakest argument, on any topic, that can be made is, “Well, that guy over there would tear you to shreds.”

  • Le Mur · July 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t see the point of this.

    People praying in opposite directions is funnier than people praying in one direction. Who will god love the most? Details at 11.

    Thomas Aquinas or John Calvin, even in translation, or by any literate Jewish believer who had read Maimonedies.

    Toss names much? And “even in translation”! – how generous of you. Your “refined” superstitions are still just superstitions, inherently goofy no matter what the lingo.

  • Mark in Spokane · July 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Le Mur,

    That is quite possible — and in fact I openly concede that there is a strong argument to be made in favor of atheism. Anthony Flew (perhaps a name you would like?) made just such an argument in his academic work.

    My point is simply that MacDonald did not make any such argument. And anyone who knew anything about the theistic tradition in the West would be able to recognize that. Assertions of “superstition” don’t undermine that point.

  • secular square · August 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    This competition for favors from the same deity is a far more interesting theological throwdown than that more famous one recorded between different deities in First Kings 18.

    That is, if the liberals are in fact praying to the same deity. Has it been confirmed that they are not praying to the ancient god of the Aztecs?

    “There is no god but Huitzilopochtli and Painal is his messenger!”

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