Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Diversity and Prayer

Kay has beat me in posting about our new PFLAG group which I was so glad that it went as well as it did. I was nervous, actually very nervous about the attendance until people began to show up and while I was waiting I was talking with our host about diversity issues at the University.

Her issue was really about Christian prayer at functions at the state supported University. And why it was always a Christian prayer at an event where there was a diversity of religions in attendance. So, if our country was founded on ‘Religious Freedom’ why is Christian prayer so heavily favored.

Why do we force our beliefs on those who choice of religion is not the same as ours? We have come to expect everyone to pray our prayer with us or be quiet if we are in a large group event and don't give any thought about if we might offend them. Why can’t we just have a moment of silence instead of a formal prayer, or better yet; why can’t we invite our Jewish brothers to recite a prayer from the Torah, why not a prayer from the Qu'ran by our Muslim brothers, why not a prayer from a Native American and can we be respectful for them? If we are to begin to think of ourselves as a nation of diversity because we can trace our heritage back to a multitude of peoples, why can’t we expand our range of diversity to include a multitude of issues and beliefs? When we are eating out at a restaurant and a couple at a table across the room begins to say their blessing, do we interrupt or point them out to others? We respect their right to quietly say their own blessing. We should extend that respectfulness to other situations. It's alright for others to choose the way they want to give reverence to whomever they believe in. That's between them and their Divine Being and we should not condemn anyone for what they believe.

We conduct non-denominational services at our National Prayer Breakfasts, why can’t we extend that concept to a greater number of organized group events where a prayer has to be said as part of the program.

When my mothers, who is Catholic, visits our church she won’t say the Lord’s Prayer with us, because as Episcopalian we have added more text after ‘….deliver us from evil”; would other Christians sit still through a prayer said by someone who was Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or other beliefs? Have we become so narrow minded in insisting that a Christian prayer be said while giving disapproving glances to anyone who doesn’t pray their prayer with them? If we can’t condone a diversified religious view, how can we ever condone and/or accept someone who is gay or trans and respect their different beliefs or life?

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