In my blog post yesterday (the sin of blame), I closed with my prayer that the coming national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties would be empty of pointed fingers of reproach and recrimination and filled with words and deeds of positive resolution to the difficulties facing America and the world.
Last night, John Mark Burns, a South Carolina evangelical Christian televangelist and pastor, closed the first night of the Republican convention with the following:
Hello, Republicans! I’m Pastor Mark Burns from the great state of South Carolina! I’m gonna pray and I’m gonna give the benediction. And you know why? Because we are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ. And Republicans, we got to be united, because our enemy is not other Republicans, but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
Let’s pray together. Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord, we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him, that you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.
To defeat every attack that comes against us, protect the life of Donald Trump. Give him the words, give him the peace, give him the power and authority to be the next president of the United States of America. In Jesus’ name. If you believe it, shout “Amen!”
In my realm of reason, my universe of understanding, to beseech that one you support be granted “words”, “peace”, “power and authority” is one thing. It is another thing to vilify others as “enemies”, impugning their aims as “keep(ing) us divided and not united”, who, notwithstanding they are those you do not support, also are citizens of the United States of America.
For me, this is the kind of unambiguously, unabashedly partisan political and sectarian prayer that misses the mark of prudent and benevolent discernment, thus giving politics and prayer a bad name.