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Dave Briggs Promotes Prayer Day – Gets Schooled By Dan Barker

Reported by Priscilla - May 9, 2010 -

The religious right has their pure and sinless panties in a bunch about the recent court decision, by a Federal Judge in Wisconsin, that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. This latest outrage, by the evil libruls, has been getting a bit of press on both Fox opinion and Fox news which isn’t suprising given that Fox’s gospel is preached to a conservative Christian congregation. Newsie Martha MacCallum hosted a “fair & balanced” (not quite) discussion of this issue with Fox’s in-house Catholic priest, Father Jonathan Morris and Dan Barker from the “Freedom From Religion Foundation.” Martha and Fr.Morris just couldn’t seem to understand why good Americans can’t pray! Barker explained that they can pray all they want – but not at the taxpayer’s expense. Barker had a solo appearance on yesterday’s weekend Fox & Friends during which second stringer Dave Briggs pushed all the tired religious right arguments (used by Martha MacCallum) about this latest Christian persecution. Dan Barker rebutted these arguments in a reasoned and well articulated manner. Briggs even learned something about the Constitution and our country’s secular origins.

Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional because it’s only purpose “is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.” It’s quite clear; but the gang at Fox doesn’t seem to get it as shown by Brigg’s line of questions to “the man at the center of the prayer day controversy,” Dan Barker. Briggs introduced the topic by referring to how this prayer day has been “observed by millions of Americans” for 58 years. He didn’t note that White House’s National Day of Prayer Breakfast was created and hosted by the secretive right wing religio-political group, “The Family.” He didn’t note that Shirley Dobson, wife of religious right leader, Dr. Dobson, is the chair of the prayer day task force whose volunteers are required to abide by a "statement of belief" in Christianity. The chyron set the propaganda – “Preying on Prayer, Court Rules National Event Unconstitutional.” Briggs shook his head and said how, “since 1952, the National Day of Prayer has been going on, no objections. Why do you have a problem on this day when people are called upon to pray, no one is forced to do anything.” Barker cited all the groups, Christians included, who have voiced their objections over the years since the evangelical right forced congress to pass the prayer day statute. Barker explained that a day of prayer is exclusionary and mentioned that there was no formal prayer at the Constitutional Convention and according to the Constitution, the government “can’t take sides” on religious issues. More agitprop on the chyron: “Passing on Prayer, Atheists Fight to Do Away With National Event.” Briggs said he was “having difficulty” because “at times like this, with a bombing attempt…and an oil spill…flooding down in Tennessee, why would you want to object to a day in which some people might find some spirituality…to think that things are going to be OK.” He repeated the mantra of those who have no problem with the mixing of church and state: “It doesn’t force you to do anything.” Barker’s response was priceless: “these people can’t pray unless the government holds their hands?” He continued with more blasphemy about how we’re a secular nation with a godless Constitution that protects the freedom to pray and the decision was about the government “orchestrating a private religious ritual.” Briggs presented the bogus Christian right mantra about how “this is a Judeo Christian nation” and cited “passages in the Constitution such as we are endowed with their creator…” Briggs asked“what’s next” and whether the government should no longer recognize Christmas because it has Judeo Christian roots.

This was obviously time for some schooling which Barker provided to the hapless Briggs. He informed Briggs that the passage he cited wasn’t from the Constitution but from the Declaration of Independence and that the Constitution doesn’t mention the creator. He then informed Briggs that the Wisconsin Judge said that Christmas and Thanksgiving, though having religious roots, are secular and that the Day of Prayer goes too far because “there’s nothing secular” about it. He mentioned that "Christians stole Christmas from the pagans." Briggs contention that we are a Christian nation was shot down when Barker told him that we were never a Christian country and referenced the US treaty with Tripoli that clearly declared that the US government isn’t in any sense “founded on a Christian religion.” Briggs brought up the “establishment clause” and claimed that in this case there is no establishment of religion on behalf of the government. He looked puzzled when Barker said there is an establishment “when the government promotes religion” and the courts have “consistently upheld that the government must back off and be neutral.” He hit the nail squarely on the head when he asserted that “it’s the evangelicals who have confused neutrality with hostility” and “when the government isn’t blowing their trumpet, it’s offending their freedom.”

Comment: Despite Barker’s concluding statement that “we are a secular, democratic republic and not a theocracy," Fox News will continue to blow the trumpet for the religious right. It’s too bad that Barker couldn’t have appeared on the weekday Fox & Friends as they, too, need a lesson in real American history and not the factually challenged revisionist, Christian based, alternative that is promoted on the Fox “News” channel and which Dave Briggs was schooled on!