Christians are commanded in scripture (1Timothy 2:1-4) to pray for the president and all of our nation’s leaders. However, many conservative believers expressed more anger than prayer for President Obama, and many liberal people of faith are doing the same today for President Trump. The same was true when President Bush was in office. Yet it is my duty to pray for my president daily.
My friend and fellow hospital chaplain, Dick Allison, usually votes for Democrats. He tells me that during the Watergate scandal that plagued Republican President Richard Nixon, he would often complain about Nixon’s failures. He didn’t vote for Nixon, and he didn’t like him. One day he realized that he had failed to pray for Nixon. “Since that day, hardly a day has gone by that I have not prayed for the president, whoever it was,” says Chaplain Allison.
I have a fuzzy photo of President George W. Bush taken on August 21, 2006, when President Bush spoke in Savannah, Georgia. After speaking, he went through the crowd shaking hands, and I grabbed my camera and took this picture in such a hurry that it came out fuzzy. As Mr. Bush greeted the crowd and shook my hand, I said, “I pray for you every day.” He looked me in the eye, and exclaimed, “Thanks, it’s working!” A priest who disliked President Bush’s policies later told me, “It must not be working.” Because he disagreed with the politician, he dismissed the prayer. How short-sighted! Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and the Old Testament prophets modeled this kind of praying for us. Isaiah said that the Lord “wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 49:16), Jeremiah wept over the nation, and Ezekiel called for someone to “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) on behalf of the nation. Whatever our political persuasion, we can be patriotic prayer warriors. If the praying prophets of ancient Israel could pray for their nation, even when they had evil rulers, can we do less? Will we stand in the gap for America?
Here are two maps of the USA. The first compares the states that voted for Obama (blue) and Romney (red) in the 2012 presidential election. The second shows states that are very religious (dark green), average (green) and below average in religiosity (light green).
It is interesting that 100% of the “above average” religious states went for Romney, and 14 out of 16 “below average” religious states went for Obama. Exit polls show that people who go to church regularly supported Romney by large margins, and people who never go to church supported Obama by large margins.
Religion was not the only factor in the election, as there were many “average” religious states that went for Romney and two “below average” states (Wyoming and Alaska) that went for Romney. This is because there are two kinds of conservatives: social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. Wyoming and Alaska are definitely independent-minded, fiscally conservative states. But the map does indicate that despite all the focus on the economy in this election, the differences between the candidates on the social issues that religious people care about, especially abortion and traditional marriage, made a huge difference in how people voted.
Here are ten things I love about America, in no particular order, adapted from Twitter, Facebook and my own thoughts. How about you? What would you add?
1. Children taking off their hats during the National Anthem.
2. Free coffee refills.
3. Applauding veterans and troops in the 4th of July parade.
4. The right to travel freely without a national ID card and without being stopped by the police for no reason.
5. Freedom to worship as we believe without fear.
6. Freedom to dissent without fear of arrest.
7. Generous churches sharing with those in need and disaster relief.
8. Country music, jazz, rock & roll and praise & worship
9. The right to share my faith openly with others without being silenced.
10. Andy Griffith