Here in South Carolina two bills are working their way through the state Legislature that would set guidelines for public displays of religion, one related to prayer at governmental meetings and the other outlining the manner in which the Ten Commandments can be displayed in schools or government buildings. State Sen. Mike Fair, one of the sponsors of the bill that would create the South Carolina Public Invocation Act, said the intent is to give state support to government bodies that choose to pray before meetings while outlining the manner that such prayers are constitutionally acceptable. He said, "It gives deference to the notion of God by prayer but cannot be sectarian in the sense that it's a Christian prayer or some such." He went on to say that the bill would require the state attorney general to defend any local government that was sued for prayer, but wouldn't require government bodies to pray: "It provides cover for those districts or those entities that want to have prayer or that want to post religious artifacts and historical documents. It gives state support for those who choose to do it. It is not a mandate."
I have no doubt that the intention of those who are sponsoring this Bill is good. I know they are seeking to withstand the constant attacks from bodies such as the ACLU. I appreciate that they are seeking to support small communities whose representatives are often scared into compliance with the threats from radicals by the prospect of having to spend a lot of money out of their limited resources to defend themselves in court. As I say, I can see the good intention that lies behind this Bill. But I find it worrisome. I fear that in an effort to accommodate God and His enemies under one Public Invocation Act, we will end up enshrining a religious observance that will bring the wrath and not the blessing of God.
Notice carefully the wording with which Senator Fair defends his Bill: "It gives deference to the notion of God by prayer but cannot be sectarian in the sense that it's a Christian prayer or some such." In other words, by law the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would be banned from all prayers offered in any sphere in which the State may be deemed to be involved. This is not an advance against humanism but a retreat into a Christless form of religion that is abominable to God and should be abominable to us. Now let me make it clear that I am not saying that the sponsors of the Bill are either Godless or Christless. That is not my point. My point is that good men sometimes do things with the best of intentions that have unintended consequences. Let me make this absolutely clear: you cannot please God and pray in a manner that is acceptable to Him if you deliberately ban all reference to the person and work of His Son. To expect Christian ministers to pray such prayers is an insult both to them and to Christ. God has highly exalted His name. He has set it above every other name. Soon He will make every tongue confess it and every knee bow at its mention. God allows no other approach to Him than through Jesus Christ.So how on earth can we be blessed in accommodating some "notion of God" by legally excluding all reference to Christ? It's time for us and our legislators to think again. They should not try to force non-Christians to pray but they should tell them that they cannot stop us from praying in the name of the Lord Jesus, at governmental meetings or anywhere else. Otherwise, we'd be better without the charade of public prayers that ban the name of Christ.