When Good Prayer Goes Badby Kyle Michaelis
Almighty God, we come humbly into your presence this morning, seeking your favor.
I thank you, God, that in the great state of Nebraska we do have a Legislature that does not deny you God, but who rather seeks your favor and guidance. I do ask, Lord, that you would guide these leaders of our people. I ask that you would give each of them a renewed sense of conscience, of conviction and courage to do what is right.
I do also come, Lord, this morning with a heavy heart. I ask your forgiveness on our people, a people who have killed 47 million of my fellow Americans since the year I was born. We have aborted 47 million babies made in your image. God, forgive us. Forgive us for our complacency. We go to work and school, and come home and watch television, while genocide, infanticide and homicide is being committed on our own children. Open our eyes, Lord. Open our eyes to your morality that when you said "thou shalt not murder," you meant even the most innocent and unwanted among us.
Open our eyes to the other aspects of this 33-year-long bloody nightmare. Open our eyes to see that we've killed 47 million young American taxpayers, and indeed Social Security is in crisis. Open our eyes to see that 47 million of our countrymen are gone - doctors, lawyers, inventors, authors, musicians and artists. Forgive us, oh God, and open our eyes and change our path. Comfort the mothers and fathers who have great wonder and regret. Heal us, oh God.
Forgive us also, Lord, for the teaching of the religion of evolution to our young citizens, a religion that tells us that we are only here by chance; that we are here for no reason and human life means nothing more than any other life; that we will never face a Judgment Day. We've put our children into the same category as other mammals, and we wonder why sometimes they act like animals. Forgive us for sowing the seeds of anarchy in the hearts of children.
Open our eyes, God. We can see, when we look at our wristwatches, intelligent design, but when we gaze into the incredible complexity of biology and nature, we see chance. Open our eyes; change our path.
Lord God, I pray that in these halls this and every day our leaders would make the right choices; they would make decisions based upon right and wrong, not on politics. I pray that you and your will would indeed be done through these leaders. Bless them, oh God; strengthen them; guide them. I pray that your will indeed would be done on earth as it is in heaven, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Well, that's certainly one way of celebrating this weekend's 33rd anniversary since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. A captive audience of state senators and plenty of local media hungry for a story probably beats protesting outside a women's clinic any day of the week. That the text of this political speech appeared on-line so quickly after it was delivered leaves one wondering if Swartley didn't have copies already available for the press - maybe he even e-mailed it to them as a .pdf file.
Regardless, it seems pretty clear this was more an instance of political grandstanding than fulfillment of any supposed moral duty. I mean, seriously, the guy went so far as to call aborted fetuses "taxpayers", while mourning their inability to pay into Social Security.
Swartley's total misconception of evolutionary theory - calling it a religion and speaking as if it's all dependent upon chance - only further establishes the fact that this was no innocent gesture of conscience. It was an ignorant abuse of the legislature's goodwill and the people's trust, masking one man's political agenda in terms of spirituality and Godliness of which his own conduct shows no evidence.
The Omaha World-Herald reports on the response of the state senator resposible for Swartley's opening "prayer":
State Sen. Jim Cudaback of Riverdale, who invited Swartley to serve as chaplain for the day, said he was disappointed by Swartley's actions.
"There's a time and a place for such things, but it's not on the floor of the Legislature," Cudaback said. "It's a privilege to have a minister come in the morning - and to have one break the rules doesn't make your day."
Legislative guidelines call for pastors to offer nondenominational prayers and to refrain from discussing issues pending before the Legislature and other political topics.
Must be the influence of those "seeds of anarchy" Swartley was talking about. The Lincoln Journal-Star continues:
Sen. Ed Schrock, whose district includes Elm Creek, where Swartley is the pastor at First Christian Church, shook hands with him after he gave his prayer. But he didn’t offer any congratulations.
“I told him he shouldn’t have brought abortion into this — keep politics out of your prayer,” Schrock said. “We have enough trouble keeping prayer here without having political issues inserted.”
The saddest thing about this is that some are going to uphold Swartley as a hero for this disrespectful and Constitutionally suspect behavior. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to see him use this momentary infamy to embark on a speaking tour across the state - or, hell, maybe even turn it into his own campaign for the state legislature.
Think about it: both Cudaback and Schrock (take your pick) are being term-limited this year, and Mike Foley of Lincoln - the state senator best known for engaging in his own anti-abortion theatrics - is hoping to make the leap to State Auditor in November. That leaves Swartley a prime candidate for Nebraska to reload on its single-issue zealots in the legislature. After all, a state can never have enough of those.
Now, let's just hope that's my taste for whimsy talking and not my other tendency towards keen political insight. 'Tis a curse, I tell you...a miserable curse.
**For more worthy commentary on this incident, see Ed Howard's column at Nebraska StatePaper.