May 4, 2017

National Prayer Day 2017

Not being a religious person, I've never paid all that much attention to the National Day of Prayer. For example, until I looked it up, I never knew that it was older than me. According to the history link on its web page, the whole thing started back in 1952.
On April 17 a bill initiated by Mr. Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels and Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas was passed (Public Law 82-324) that the President of the United States was to set aside an appropriate day each year, other than Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer.
This year, along with many other people, I'll pay more attention. Because it's rumored that today is the day that president Trump will sign one of his Executive Orders - you know, the thing he wasn't going to do -- that mess with religion in a way that is unfair to others.

The order is supposed to reduce enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, the pesky little part of the law that prevents 501c(3) organizations from supporting political candidates and to enable more non-living, non-breathing human corporations to express their deeply held religious beliefs.
The three main points of the executive order, according to a senior White House official, will declare "that it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty," direct the IRS "to exercise maximum enforcement of discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment," and provide "regulatory relief for religious objections to Obamacare's burdensome preventative services mandate."
The order, after what I'm sure will be a deeply moving, prayerful and somber, signature-flashing photo op, will be signed by a man who lied about belonging to a church, and whose actions and words do not generally reflect core values or religious beliefs of any kind.

That part doesn't matter so much, I guess, to the living breathing people and bricks and mortar people, as long as he does their bidding.

The order will take bold steps to try and legitimize discrimination as the law of the land. According to a leaked copy that has been out there since February,which may or may not have been changed in any significant way, the order
specifically protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that "believe, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life. 
And, if it goes as originally written,
It sets forth an exceptionally expansive definition of "religious exercise" that extends to "any act or refusal to act that is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the act is required or compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.
Words like these, and actions like the ones we are likely to see today, are part of the reason why I'm not religious, and in fact serve to strengthen my core beliefs in that regard.