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She’s ba-ack!

Kyle Boller and Carrie Prejean

So I’m reading the Chron for Raider news and I find this:

The Raiders likely won’t draft a quarterback in the first round next week, as they added a second former first-rounder to the mix on Thursday in former Cal star Kyle Boller.

That’s good news, but farther down in the article I see this:

Boller may have had to change his number after getting engaged to former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean in Feb. Prejean first received nationwide attention for an answer she gave during the 2009 Miss USA pageant, in which she stated her belief that marriage should be solely defined as a union between a man and a woman.

Next season should be interesting.

This is an open thread.

Should the U.S. have a National Day of Prayer?

Is the US a Christian Nation?

Barbara Crabbe, a US District Court judge in Wisconsin, has issued a decision calling the “National Day of Prayer” unconstitutional. The complete ruling is here (PDF). In her decision, Crabbe wrote of the legislation establishing an official U.S. day of prayer:

It goes beyond mere “acknowledgment” of religion because its sole 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. “When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual’s decision about whether and how to worship.”

The ruling came in response to a suit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Foundation filed its groundbreaking suit in October 2008. Plaintiffs besides the Foundation are Anne Nicol Gaylor, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, Paul Gaylor, Phyllis Rose and Jill Dean, who are all Foundation officers or board members. Defendants are President Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, his press secretary. Original defendants were President George Bush and Dana Perino, his press secretary at the time.

All presidents since 1952 have issued proclamations designating the National Day of Prayer each year. Since 1988, the National Day of Prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May. The president’s proclamations are released by the Office of the Press Secretary.

Judge Crabb enjoined Obama from enforcing the National Day of Prayer law, but stayed the injunction until the appeals process is completed. The law setting the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer passed Congress in 1952 after an intensive campaign led by Rev. Billy Graham.

Also active in the passage of the legislation was Rev. Pat Robertson’s father, Virginia Senator Absolom Robinson

The bill establishing the National Day of Prayer was introduced in the Senate by Absalom Robertson of Virginia – Rev. Pat Robertson’s father. Senator Robertson stated that it was a measure against “the corrosive forces of communism which seek simultaneously to destroy our democratic way of life and the faith in an Almighty God on which it is based.”

The law, signed into effect by President Truman, read, “The President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

As expected, since the judge stayed her decision until higher courts rule on it, the White House immediately announced that it will still continue with plans for this year’s national day of prayer on May 6.

There have been a number of reactions around the blogosphere. At Shakesville, Jadelyn is pleased even though there may not be immediate change, calling the decision

a huge step forward for non-believers in America, or those who do not “pray” in the traditional sense of the word, or just those who understand the concept of separating church and state and would like to see it upheld. And it deals a hefty blow to the dominionist types, who are forever arguing that America is a Christian nation, to be told outright that even a non-sectarian and inclusive (for some value of “inclusive”, which pointedly does not include atheists or agnostics) Day of Prayer, when mandated by law, is unconstitutional.

At Americablog, John Aravosis warns: “prepare for Armageddon” and adds:

I don’t want my government getting anywhere near my religion, or anyone else’s. Far too often, you see corrupt governments, and corrupt religions, influencing each other. If politicians want to pray on their own time, great. But Congress shouldn’t be mandating special prayer time.

From a Pagan site, The Wild Hunt,

Of special interest to my audience concerning Judge Crabb’s 66-page decision is the following passage:

“Recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge, or practice rune magic.”

Right there, Crabb acknowledges the reality and existence of pre-Christian, indigenous, and non-monotheistic faiths in this country. That having a US state-sanctioned “prayer day” isn’t some sort of secular ceremonial deist tradition (in fact, both Jefferson and Madison thought such proclamations were unconstitutional), but instead invokes the praxis of primarily Abrahamic faith traditions.

From the Atheist Revolution,

The part of Judge Crabb’s 66-page ruling that I found particularly compelling was her clear recognition that a National Day of Prayer “serves no purpose but to encourage a religious exercise.”

This is a big win and should be celebrated as such. Based on what we’ve seen from the Supreme Court lately, I will be somewhat surprised if it isn’t overturned. Of course, the Obama administration does not have to appeal it. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

Yeah, it would be a nice change, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

So what do YOU think? And have you seen other interesting reactions? If so, please share in the comments.

Once you learn to fake authenticity, the rest is easy

From the Telegraph article How Barack Obama invented himself containing an interview between Obama biographer David Remnick and Ta-Nehisi Coates:

TC Right. How does that play into his political career? I wonder how, again, to the extent that there was a choice to identify as multiracial, not necessarily black.

DR It is a huge theme in his political career. Every step of the way race plays a gigantic role. Every time he runs for office. When he ran for [Illinois] state senator he committed an act of impiety against the long-standing regulars there by refusing to step back from [incumbent] Alice Palmer, who had a much deeper relationship to the community than he did. When he ran for Congress in 2000 he ran against the former Black Panther Bobby Rush, and somebody extremely popular on the south side; an act of impiety. He lost two to one, and it was an ugly, ugly race, in which Rush and another opponent really were putting it out on the street that this guy is inauthentic – not black enough, was the phrase; that he’s an outsider; he’s not really one of us, he doesn’t have our experience, etc, etc, etc. Which is a complete denial of the black experience in America, which is immensely diverse, whether it is people who are from the Caribbean or from Africa or from… This subject dogs him all the way; it doesn’t begin with the presidential race.

TC Since you mention Bobby Rush: there is a great scene in your book where Rush harps on how Obama walks, his bob, as we tend to call it, and he jokes that Obama did not walk like that before he came to Chicago, and that he acquired this kind of way of walking.

DR Yes. Bobby Rush is not a young man any more; his health is not the best. He is very tall and very skinny, and he is the cock of the walk. Why? Because he is the one guy who beat Obama; and he beat him soundly. So, here he is in his congressional office: it’s very nice that Barack has won finally, and he’s mocking him, and then he gets up and he just sashays across the office. And he said, you know, back then he didn’t walk like that when he ran against me. You know, he’s accusing him, even to this day, of inauthenticity; as if we all don’t learn, as if we are born with walks and all kinds of things.

TC There is also a great scene where – and forgive my language – one of the guys basically says, you mother——, you’ve got to learn how to talk.

DR Exactly. Obama was smart enough to hire some people that knew their way around, as they called them in Chicago, taverns and clubhouses; he didn’t just bring his Harvard friends. And they would yell at him: they said you go into these black churches and you talk like you are teaching law at the University of Chicago. But he hadn’t learnt it yet. You know, it’s like being a musician: you don’t get to be Sonny Rollins by picking up the saxophone five or six times; you do it over and over and over again in your woodshed. And that is what is amazing about Barack Obama, how quickly he got to the level he did as a politician. He had the bug. We think of him in exalted terms, and should in many ways, but he is also a politician who believes.

A politician who believes in what? Getting himself elected?

I remember the first time I saw Obama addressing an African American audience during the primaries. He was talking like he was trying to imitate Dr. Martin Luther King. Then he started channeling Denzel’s portrayal of Malcolm X:

Obama sometimes “talks the talk” of a progressive Democrat too, but it’s pretty hard to walk the walk when everything about you is as phony as a $3 bill. If you want to know who Obama really is, follow the money. It leads right to Wall Street.

But we already knew that.