Praying for Liberals
By David Waters
A conservative Christian organization affiliated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University has decided to take a less partisan and more prayerful approach to the "radically liberal" age of Obama. The Liberty Council, a nonprofit that defends religious liberties, is encouraging its supporters to "Adopt a Liberal" and "pray earnestly and intensely for them."
(Semantic aside: Ironically, "liberty" and "liberal" share the same Latin root, liber, an adjective meaning free.)
Liberty's prayer list of liberals includes Democrats and Republicans -- President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but also California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Pick one or more of the liberals from the list we have posted online at www.LC.org
, or choose your own liberal(s) to adopt," Liberty requests. "Pray earnestly and intensely for them! Pray that the Lord would move upon them and cause them to be the kind of leaders who will encourage others to lead 'a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.' We encourage you to seek the Lord's guidance on how to pray for your liberal(s), always allowing Him to temper your prayer with His love and mercy."
Is this what Jesus meant when he told his followers to "pray for your enemies"?
It's certainly a nicer and more faithful approach than, say, last weekend's "How to Take America Back" conference, co-sponsored by Christian Right mavens Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and Janet Porter of Faith2Action.
Saturday at the conference, for example, U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, told the audience that President Obama "is an enemy of humanity." (A spokesman for Franks later tried to "clarify" the remarks.)
Sunday, former Mike Huckabee adviser Rick Scarbrough, self-described "Christocrat" and author of the book "Liberalism Kills Kids," accused Obama of staffing his administration with "well-financed, well-heeled, and highly-staffed professional infidels who have dedicated their life" to destroying America.
The Liberty Council isn't quite so direct, but it's not hiding its disdain for Obama. The prayer initiative includes "reasons why they qualify for the program."
"President Obama has assembled what is arguably the most radically liberal administration in American history. His policy initiatives have favored socialism, the homosexual agenda, and the funding of infant genocide around the world. He has denied America's Christian heritage but has openly praised Islam for its contributions to America and the world. He calls himself a 'citizen of the world,' a term that reflects his support of a 'one world government.'"
Liberty acknowledges that its prayer initiative "has a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek humor associated" with it, but can you pray for your enemies while you're bearing false witness?
Last week I noted that the progressive (some would say liberal) Christian group Sojourners (led by Jim Wallis) was asking its supporters to pray for Glenn Beck of Fox News -- specifically that he change his opposition to health-care reform.
Is Liberty's prayer initiative -- or Sojourners -- an example of Christ-like compassion or Rush-like condescension? Should prayer be politicized?