The fact is, the Trump-worshipping strain of right-wing Christianity was going to find some reason to moan about Bidenâs proclamation no matter what it said. Still smarting from the fact that Biden beat their new messiah in November, theyâre hard at work at a tiresome game: using religion to divide Americans and further the culture wars.
So, letâs call their bluff with a modest proposal: How about we ditch the National Day of Prayer entirely?
Bidenâs NDP proclamation was less offensive and less exclusionary than those Trump issued â Trump typically implied ALL Americans pray and his proclamations tended to be studded with offensive âChristian nationâ mythology. But even though Biden was careful not to paint all Americans with a prayerful, Christian nationalist brush, those who donât pray or donât have any particular religious tradition are bound to feel excluded when the president of our secular nation issues calls to prayer.
Those of us who advocate for separation of church and state wonât miss the NDP because we argue that government, as a secular entity, has no business meddling in the religious lives of its citizens, including offering advice on when, where, how or if they pray. At the same time, Christian nationalists wonât have to worry about their tender sensibilities being offended because the president fails to employ the religious terminology they prefer. Both sides will be happy.
The coronavirus pandemic has had less effect on Americans' personal religiosity than on their belief that religion has a greater influence on American life. U.S. adults' views of the importance of religion in their lives and their religious identification were unchanged in 2020, while their attendance at religious services and membership in a church, synagogue or mosque declined slightly.
Yet, there has been an uptick in the percentage of Americans who think religion as a whole is increasing, rather than losing, its influence on American life, a pattern seen at other times of national crisis.
Ammon Bundy, right-wing malcontent behind the 2016 armed takeover of Oregonâs Malheur Wildlife Refuge and now a western anti-mask movement, believes heâs doing Godâs work.
Coming from a long line of religiously inspired men who have been âcalledâ to defend the US Constitution, Bundy has varied in his focus, from rebelling against public land ranching regulations to protesting COVID-19 safety protocols. But in his view, these are all forms of government tyranny and affronts to constitutional rights. Arrested for the fourth time on March 15, 2021, Bundy was taken into custody for failing to appear at his hearing on past trespassing charges. Because he refused to wear a mask into the courtroom, thereby missing his trial, he was apprehended outside amid of a throng of other protesters.
Bundyâs crusade has been a long time in the making, but in the last year he successfully established a coalition of supporters that is broad, diverse, and a serious threat to federal law. His group is called the Peopleâs Rights Network. Like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, it includes members who see the current government as a threat to perceived rights and are committed to defend their ideas of personal liberty, by force if necessary.
So what has taken Ammon Bundy, who first came to prominence during the 2014 armed standoff in Nevada over his fatherâs unpaid grazing fees and trespassing cattle, into a life of an anti-government militant? The answer is a libertarian worldview and his take on Mormonism. Bundyâs ideology parallels the thinking of certain leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whoâve had a history of government cynicism. He also shares with them a tradition of theo-constitutionalism—venerating the Constitution as a sacred document. The paradox here is that Bundy believes he is upholding the Constitution and fulfilling his religious duties in his acts of lawlessness. (...)
When Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him âa man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our timeâ and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.
Mr. Zacharias, it says, âwarned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the âmillions of soulsâ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.â
The law firm also found a pattern of intimate text and email-based relationships with women. In reviewing his electronic devices, they found the phone numbers of more than 200 massage therapists and more than 200 selfies, some of them nudes, from much younger women. Mr. Zacharias also used the nonprofit ministry to financially support some of his long-term therapists. The report also reveals that he owned two apartments in Bangkok, where he spent 256 days between 2010 and 2014. One of his massage therapists stayed in the other apartment.
Mr. Zacharias said in 2017 that in 45 years of marriage, âI have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.â
The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about eight in 10 said the current political system is "stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values." A majority agreed with the statement, "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it."