By noon on Friday the two different men vying to be elected to lead the future of our country were united in the same belief. President Barak Obama said, “This is a day, I think, for prayers and reflection … I hope all of you will keep the people of Aurora in your hearts and minds today. May the Lord bring them comfort and healing in the hard days to come.”
Mitt Romney, his challenger who was equally stunned by the news of a senseless Colorado massacre that left at least 12 movie-goers dead, added, “We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.”
Prayer -- it is not just the first tool we grasp in search of comfort, wisdom and understanding but, as history has confirmed since 1776, it is the primary ideal on which our nation was founded. You’ve heard it countless times -- without faith there can be no hope and with no hope there is no life worth living.
While I can guarantee there is nobody in the Denver suburb of Aurora – just 15 miles from Columbine – who is racing to file a brief in a federal court over church-versus-state, that very scene will unfold in Chattanooga next week. There is a very distinct minority of those who live among us who believe prayer at the beginning of the Hamilton Co. Commission meeting is unconstitutional and should therefore be banned.
While the legal wording and interpretation is best left to those who are scholars of the Constitution and the law, I can assure you I pray all the time and believe we are blessed every time an American with a backbone stands up for what is good and right. If I loaned this forum to those who have been helped by prayer, as well as those who have not, this page would tilt.
So put me down as one who is fed up with trying to please everybody while offending no one. The stark truth is that it cannot be done. Heck, I would love to see the question put on our next ballot. Let us – we, the people -- decide if we should pray before football games, public meetings and at any events where it might be appropriate. The result would be overwhelming.
If there is someone who is offended, tell them to come in late rather than sacrifice their personal beliefs. You see, the majority of us have our beliefs, too, and in America it is high time that we no longer restrict our values and avoid embracing them in public because someone’s feelings might be hurt.
Not long ago I heard a man say that he delights in having others come to his home for dinner. Because he is successful, popular and great fun, he has a wide array of those who accept his frequent invitations. He told me, “Just before we take our places at the table, I welcome those who have come. Then I tell them that it is the custom of my house that we give thanks to Jesus Christ and ask for His blessings. I have not had one soul who has ever objected.”
Do you see? Hamilton County is our home. Here we speak English as a primary language, we admire those who behave and use good manners, and we pray whenever we want. If I were to go to Israel, I would respect the fact they speak in a foreign language, that the majority there is Jewish and that they also respect people who behave and have good manners.
I have been a guest in a Jewish household where the host gave thanks prior to the meal. It was beautiful. If I were in the home of a Muslim, I would respect his blessing on the meal as well. If a member of a Middle East terrorist cell invited me to dinner, I would decline. Poof. It is that simple. Don’t like it? Don’t go.
Annoyed that you must stand outside, or press your fingers against your lips, use the greatest weapon you have – your vote. But, as you do, be aware that others of us who like it have voted those who have decided to pray into the very chairs that they sit. I’m all about Democracy but, face it, there has never been a day in United States history where any man has had the ability to please everybody.
Finally, there is going to be some member of the minority who is going to gleefully point out that after President Obama noted that the wake of yesterday’s awful shooting that was a day for prayer and reflection, he asked those at the gathering to share in a moment of silence. This is true but, if you’ll go back and re-read the first paragraph, you will see he first called on the Lord for comfort and healing. That, my friend, is prayer. That is what we do.