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For the Strangers Who Were Taken In: An Alternative Day of Prayer
If there was ever a time to pray for America, it is now — or more specifically, this Friday, September 16th.

That’s the day President George W. Bush christened “A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance” for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In recognition of hurricane relief efforts, Bush declared “Across our Nation, so many selfless deeds reflect the promise of the Scripture: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.’”

Verily, I say unto you, it is true. In the past, many of us were "taken in" by Bush's faux religiosity — taken in by a man who promised a smaller-kinder-gentler government and then built a humongous-warmongering-crony-rewarding bureaucracy.

As a man of no particular religion, I don’t want to appear ungrateful for an opportunity to pray day. When you're in the mood, there's nothing like a good prayer. But Bush should note that many of us prayed for the Gulf Coast States in unorganized ways long before Friday, September 16. In fact, we prayed while the man they call "President" was on vacation, playing guitar and going to birthday parties.

Apparently, our unsanctioned prayer wasn’t quite good enough. The water still rose. A city was still decimated. People still died. What went wrong?

Terrell Mayton, head of marketing and communications for the National Day of Prayer Task Force, thinks he has the answer. Mayton is God's man with a plan for this Friday’s Presidential prayer extravaganza.

“We’re encouraging people to do things like ring their church bells, keep their car lights on throughout the day, display the flag at their home, gather at their workplace to pray during their lunch time, gather at their churches or places of worship and support our leaders as they make some very difficult choices as we provide aid and comfort to these people who have gone through this awful natural disaster,” Mayton said.

Wow. If I'd only rang a bell and turn my headlights on, things might not have gotten so damp in NOLA.

Still, I have my doubts about the success of Mayton's marketing plan. Doesn't he know about Matthew 6:6. You know, the bit about praying with humility. “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.” Pardon the scripture. I’m always a little wary quoting Jesus to a Bible-thumping Christian, since I don’t believe in corporal resurrection, virgin birth, or intelligent design.

I do, however, believe that there is power in prayer. It may not be strong enough to prevent a catastrophe like George W. Bush from taking public office, but it can certainly manifest itself as an expression of passionate communal desire. And so, for the millions like me who were unable to make the flood waters disappear and who don’t believe the carrot on the end of the stick is heaven, or Jesus is Magic, or you’re either with us or against us, I would like to propose an alternative prayer for the President’s “National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.”

Would you join with me and millions of others in a prayer to remove George W. Bush from office?

I believe if we pray with resolve and solemnly seek grace, our prayer will be heard and relief will be at hand.

President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

Yet, even Ike could not have foreseen how our great nation would be crippled — both economically and spiritually — by Bush and his Council of War and Greed. I’m speaking of Raytheon, Halliburton, Bechtel and their brethren in the Denomination of the Dollar.

With Bush as their front man, these evildoers steal from our treasury to finance their military crusades.

They lie to the American people to justify unprovoked attacks on anyone who threatens their profits.

They cast aside peace and environmental treaties.

They seek tax breaks for the rich while the hungry want for food; the thirsty want for drink; the homeless want for shelter.

Yea, though we walk through the valley of the Bush Administration, we fear no evil, for a higher tribunal exists. Now is the time to cry out for redress of our grievances. We pray for a President who espouses not the doctrine of the Carlyle Group, but the will of the people. We pray for a President who loves us, as he loves himself.

There is a long journey ahead. But let us rejoice. When our time comes, the almighty boot from on high will swiftly kick the hindends of those who blindly worship the raw ideology of materialism and shop for shoes on 5th Avenue while their charge is drowning,

Our country deserves better. Our world deserves better. As lovers of liberty and equality, we bow our heads in prayer.

Jesus, protect us from your followers.

So let it be. Amen.

— Nathan Callahan, September 15, 2005



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