Sunday, October 29, 2006


Have we got a minyan for the election?

Bad Astronomy and Pharyngula, both point us to the Presidential Prayer Team web site. It's easy to say — and true — that it's just the right-wing nutters claiming yet again that God's on their side, but I find this interesting from another angle or two. I'm going to anchor this on the text in their nice, purple box with the animated "Pray Now" header:

10 days remain until the elections...Pray for Americans to get informed on candidates and issues, praying for God's guidance as they prepare to vote...Pray for godly leaders to be elected on November 7...

First, noting that they cite I Timothy, 2:1-2, I decided to look it up. Here it is, from the King James version:

1. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Now I read that not as a call to pray for "godly leaders", but benign ones. Timothy isn't saying that we should pray that good kings and others be put into authority, but that those who are in authority should leave us in quiet peace so that we may be godly. A rather different view of it, don't you think?

But wait, let's not let them quote-mine. Read on, and see what else Timothy has to say:

11. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
So it's only the men who should pray (or, indeed, vote); the women are just supposed to keep their mouths shut and have babies to atone for the whole apple thing (read the next few verses for that one).

I actually see that as excellent advice that could play right into our liberal hands, and I aim to point every conservative woman to I Timothy, chapter 2. If we cut the fanatic nutjob vote in half by sending the women back to biblical times, we're set.

Anyway, let's get back to the basic point, which is, again, "Pray for godly leaders to be elected on November 7." Is the implication here that God doesn't care who's elected, but they do, and they want the leaders to be Godly? Or do they think that God does care? Either way, it seems that we have a contradictory argument, that once we bring an omnipotent God into this the whole election process makes no sense.

If God does care, well... what does s/he need our help for? God can do anything, right? All-powerful and all-knowing? Then God already knows who's going to win the election, already has it sorted. What's the point of praying about it? What's the point of even voting. Stay home, believers. God has it in hand. Trust in God.

So we have to assume that God, then, doesn't care, or doesn't care enough to take care of it directly, and what they want is for the believers to ask for God's intercession. "Hey, God, we don't want that Hillary woman getting elected, know whu'mean? She doesn't pay any attention to Timothy, isn't silent at all. Very ungodly. Please smite her. Amen."

In other words, they want us to ask God to "fix" the elections. If God hasn't already automated the whole thing, they're asking God to help them cheat. Maybe it's just me, but I find it fascinating that people who believe the way they say they do consider that to be acceptable.

Of course, the real point of the web site isn't the praying; the real point is using the prayer angle to get conservative right-wingers out to vote. It's saying, "Hey, believers, pray, and pray hard. Now, while I have your attention: vote, too!" In that, I think it's effective.

This all sort of seems like... oh, I don't know, some Lord of the Rings battle or something.


Gary said...

Wow, God, what a concept,,,

Prayer for the sake of prayer at least induces a bit of humility. They're down on their knees, where they belong. Now, just TRY to reach high enough to pull that voting lever,,,

GAry 7

scouter573 said...

For believers, prayer over an election can be a good thing. But a believer who knows the correct answer is placing themselves above their God. That sounds neither pious nor prudent. A humble prayer would ask for an election that meets the criteria of God, whatever those might be, and for the supplicant to have the strength to accept the results.

I guess I don't understand how a humble person praying to an omniscient God could possibly pretend to understand what God wants. That would seem to leave us with humble leaders like Rev. Falwell, Rev. Schuler, and Rev. Robertson.

Anonymous said...

You might have them keep reading 1 Timothy, because chapter 3 plainly states -- in all translations but one that I checked -- that a BISHOP (or 'overseer' in some translations) must be 'the husband of one wife.' But if it was necessary to put this statement into the rules for being a bishop, it cannot be a requirement for the church as a whole. Therefore, the early Church accepted polygamy. (And most scholars see 1 Timothy -- and Titus, which says the same -- as being relatively late, probably from the second Christian century rather than being by Paul, so this lasted for some time.)
Ask them how they square this with the argument that 'marriage means, and always has meant, one man and one woman.'

Prup (aka Jim Benton)