Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

National Prayer Breakfast: Controversy For Obama Even Here

February 5, 2009

President Obama was at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning — but even in this arena the new president cannot escape controversy.

The new embroglio concerns the preident’s newly revamped Office of Faith Based Initiatives.  The office was created 8 years ago by President Bush and often faith or religion based organizations took government money even though they had a record of discrimination with respect to hiring.

Now separation-of-church-and-state advocates and human-rights organizations that say the government must constitutionally compel these organizations to follow nondiscrimination laws if they accept federal funding.

Say a prayer that this all works out….

President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast:
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/
2/5/president-barack-obamas-speech-at-national-pray
er-breakfast.html?s_cid=rss:god-and-country:preside
nt-barack-obamas-speech-at-national-prayer-breakfast

CNN (Related):
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITI
CS/02/05/obama.faith.based/index.html

Related:
 House Stimulus Has Anti-Prayer, Religion Provisions?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2nd R) speaks at the ... 
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2nd R) speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, February 5, 2009. From L-R are: first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. President Barack Obama, Blair and U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).REUTERS/Larry Downing

House Stimulus Has Anti-Prayer, Religion Provisions?

February 5, 2009

Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow “religious worship.” It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.

Fox News

According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the “modernization, renovation, or repair” of facilities that allow “sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity.” 

Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.

“What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.

“President Obama’s version of faith-based initiatives is to remove the faith from initiative,” said Staver, who believes Obama has “a completely different view on faith” from what he said during his presidential campaign. 

“He is not the infallible messiah that some thought he would be,” Staver said.

Civil liberty groups like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State vehemently defend the stimulus bill’s provision, arguing that it in no way violates the Constitution.

“This provision upholds constitutional standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court and in no way affects student groups that meet on public school campuses,” said the Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The American Civil Liberties Union also defends the constitutionality of the restriction, which they say has been the law since 1972.  

“It’s almost a restatement of what the Constitution requires so there’s nothing novel in what the House did in its restriction,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU. “For 37 years, the law of the land is that the government can’t pay for buildings that are used for religious purposes.”

Not so, says the Traditional Values Coalition, which issued a statement Wednesday charging that Obama is using his stimulus plan to restrict the exercise of religion in public facilities — a provision it says violates the right to free speech.

“The economic crisis is being used as a pretext to curb religious liberty at institutions of higher learning,” said Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

“We are not asking that federal funding be used to construct a church, but if a campus ministry wants to hold a Bible study or Mass in the student activity building, we should be encouraging that — not punishing a college for permitting it,” she said.

According to some constitutional law experts, any complaint filed against the provision will gain little ground in court.

“Certainly the provision is treating the act of religious organizations differently from the activities of the school itself,” Harvard University constitutional law professor Mark Tushnet told FOXNews.com.

“It’s not frivolous to say there’s a constitutional problem with excluding religious facilities from these grants, but I think the way of the law is in the other direction,” he said.

Tushnet cited a 2004 Supreme Court case in which a Washington student lost a college scholarship awarded by the state after it was revealed that he planned to pursue a degree in pastoral ministries. Though the student argued that rescinding the money discriminated on the basis of religion, the court ruled in the state’s favor — declaring that the taxpayer-funded scholarship’s restriction is constitutional.

The White House said Wednesday that it plans to keep in place the basic structure of the faith-based initiative office established by former President George W. Bush.

Administration officials said the office is a substantial programming and policy arm of the federal government, which allows federal agencies to connect with local neighborhood and faith-based groups to deliver social services.

Economy: World Needs an Upbeat Message; Where Are The “Leaders”?

January 31, 2009

People worldwide are “depressed and traumatized” to see their life savings, including homes and pension funds, disappearing, Rupert Murdoch said at a press briefing in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

And President Obama’s Inauguration speech on January 20 (that seems like a lomg time ago already) didn’t exactly hit a chord of uplifting delight.

And there have been several suicides of financial “experts” or people who lost a lot of money recently.

The war on terror and good times seems to have put us all to sleep.  The shopping malls were full and most of us had jobs.

Now the shopping malls are not full and the credit card needs to be paid off.

Maybe the American people need to make some sacrifices.

But let’s not forget, mankind has survived more than this.

 
China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao passed our compensation money to earthquake survivors last week to start the Lunar New Year.

So maybe someone needs to step forward and give the world a pep talk, or a good old “fireside chat.”

Remember the line, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself”?

We might also consider some old passe tools like prayer and hope and faith and service to others.

Because there are now four Americans trying to get every available job and unemployment won’t last forever.

Because no matter how much cocaine and alcohol is applied to an economic meltdown the Visa and Mastercard still have to be paid…

Enter Gordon Brown who says in the UK at least the public can harness the “British spirit” and remain resolute and upbeat.

Note to our leaders: Leadership needs to remember that the public needs a morale boost now and again.

*****

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor, in Davos
From the Telegraph (UK)

Gordon Brown has issued a passionate appeal to the British people for optimism in the face of the economic downturn, insisting that confidence will see the country through the deepening recession.

While admitting that Britain is “in the eye of the storm”, the Prime Minister said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph that the country will see off the worst of the slowdown if the public can harness the “British spirit” and remain resolute and upbeat.

International forecasters say that Britain is heading for the deepest recession of any advanced economy, with unemployment predicted to pass 3  million, but Mr Brown appeals against “talking the country down”.

In a striking show of optimism, he declares: “I am absolutely confident about Britain’s future. I have utter confidence in our ability to come through this. I have utter confidence not only in the British people’s determination to come through this, but that people will work together to make sure Britain emerges from this.

“The British spirit is to see a problem, identify it, and get on with solving it. Once a problem hits us we are determined and resolute and we are adamant that we are going to deal with that problem.

“And that is the resolve, not just of the Government, but the resolve of the whole people.”

The Prime Minister, attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, admits that the stakes could not be higher, saying that if a London summit of world leaders in April fails, then the world risks

sliding into protectionism and an economic slump similar to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The April summit, hosted by Mr Brown, will bring together leaders of the G20 economies, including Barack Obama, the US president.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetop
ics/davos/4404491/Gordon-Brown-All-Britain-
needs-is-confidence-in-itself.html

Rick Warren Inaugural Prayer Transcript

January 21, 2009

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.

History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Update: Video of Warren’s prayer
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpoli
tics/2009/01/rick_warrens_in.html

http://mrclm.wordpress.com/2009/01/2
0/pastor-rick-warren-inauguration-prayer-transcript/

Dr. Rick Warren delivers the invocation during President Barack ... 
Dr. Rick Warren delivers the invocation during President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in Washington, January 20, 2009. Obama became the 44th President of the United States today.REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)

Inauguration Crowd on Steroids; Event Participants Needed Xanax

January 21, 2009

The Chinese would have seen so many bad omens they’d mostly call President Obama “Not Lucky” after yesterday’s Inauguration.

The oath was botched.

Two Senators needed medical attention before the end of lunch.

Rick Warren’s prayer was only applauded by his Mom, apparently.

The Speech? Gerard Baker of The Times in London was looking for some “Kennedy-esque, or Rooseveltian quotations for the ages.”

He was disappointed.

The crowd was on steroids.  The event participants needed Xanax.

But, like a family wedding that features a drunken uncle or broken china, the job got done.

So, enough fol-de-rol.  Let’s get to work.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)

Obama Prayer Speaker Linked to Hamas

January 18, 2009

A Muslim scholar chosen to speak at President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural prayer service Wednesday is the leader of a group that federal prosecutors say has ties to terrorists.

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America since 2006, is one of many religious leaders scheduled to speak at the prayer service at Washington’s National Cathedral. Ms. Mattson has been the guest of honor at State Department dinners and spoke at a prayer service at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

But in 2007 and as recently as July, federal prosecutors in Dallas filed court documents linking the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic society to the group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

Neither Ms. Mattson nor her organization has been charged. But prosecutors wrote in July that they had “a wide array of testimonial and documentary evidence expressly linking” the group to Hamas and other radical groups.

Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Mr. Obama’s inaugural committee, would not discuss the case or say whether the committee knew about it.

“She has a stellar reputation in the faith community,” she said Saturday night.

Read the rest from the Associated Press:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
09/jan/18/prayer-speaker-linked-to-hamas/

Related: Some Faiths Left Out of Prayer Service
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2
009/jan/18/prayer-speaker-linked-to-hamas/

Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

January 17, 2009

Inauguration day is America’s unique day of hope. Whatever the speech, whoever the president-elect: a key player in every inauguration day is bound to be the Almighty and his right hand man: Hope.

I wrote that four years ago in a newspaper story published the morning of George W. Bush’s second inauguration.

Barack Obama made “hope” his watchword.  And that makes him more like all the other presidents than many might expect.

Trying to find a common thread among all those many inauguration day speeches, it occurred to me that “hope” was the most common thread linking all of America’s presidents.

We Americans don’t discuss hope much. Hope, it seems, is for sissies. Americans like action: like John Wayne kicking in the bad guy’s door, six-shooter in hand.

And some people shy away from discussing hope because the concept of hope puts one on the road to prayer and this, WE KNOW, is taboo to a segment of the world’s population.

But there is a day, every four years, when Americans celebrate hope. And that day is Inauguration Day.

And we listen to our elected president’s words. We judge our president-elect by these, his first words, as our commander in chief.

In history, there are many themes that seem to resonate through the inaugural addresses. Education, poverty, crime, war, and peace all appear over and over in inauguration day speeches. But the importance of God’s guidance and the wonderful goodness of hope permeates many of the great American inaugural addresses.

We should not be surprised that many presidents invoke the name of God, maybe even offer a prayer themselves for the success of the nation (and their presidency?), and offer us hope at the inauguration. Their task is looming large; their support sometimes fleeting. One might wonder at the overconfident man in such a difficult situation. Normal men ask for God’s help and offer us all a hopeful vision of the future.

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” He asked us to answer a “call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ –a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

On another January 20, in 1969, Richard M. Nixon reminded us, “Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man’s deepest aspirations can at last be realized.” He also said, “We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today.”

President Lincoln, in his second inaugural, looked with hope at the end of the Civil War. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln delivered these words on March 4, 1865. Just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated.

President Eisenhower evoked hope. On January 20, 1953, he reminded the nation that “we view our Nation’s strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere.”

President James A. Garfield suggested a halt in the march of mankind, just for a moment, to reflect upon the importance of hope. In his March 4, 1881 inaugural, he said, “Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled.”

Inauguration day is a day of hope and prayer. No other day in American life is so steeped in prayer. No other day in the American calendar so often reverberates with the theme of hope.

Oh, many moments in American life begin with prayer: including the opening of House and Senate sessions in the capitol. But at our inaugurations, one can feel the sincerity of men thrust into the maelstrom. Greater Washington seems to become a great cathedral of hope and prayer: before it immediately returns to a nation that separates church and state.

What, exactly, is hope? You can’t buy anything with it and nobody can prove that it helps you in life. So what is hope?

Hope is an amputee veteran of the war in Iraq who wants to learn to ski. Hope is the cancer victim who won’t give in. Hope keeps the terminally ill calm and the pinned- down platoon together. Hope is the antithesis of despair, the enemy of our darkest fears.

Hope and prayer drive my friend in South Carolina to fight his multiple sclerosis.

Hope is one of those emotions unique to mankind. It sometimes defies reason and fights off evil thoughts of surrender.

Prayer goes hand-in-hand with hope; and America was founded by men deeply governed by their hope and prayer and belief in God.

The Founding Fathers established the United States, wrote the Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and created a nation firmly rooted in the belief in God and freedom of religion protected by the separation of church and state.

Many of the Founders and their forefathers fled Europe to escape religious prosecution. They wanted this new nation to allow them freedom of religion and thus the very nation is rooted in a belief in God.

The Declaration of Independence starts this way: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, who was called “the firebrand of the American Revolution,” affirmed his obedience to God by stating, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come.”

James Madison, the fourth president, made the following statement, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Madison is often referred to as “The Father of Our Constitution.”

When historians at the University of Houston conducted a 10-year study of the ideas that shaped our republic, they found 94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.”God created all men equal,” one of the most fundamental and important acclamations of our government, became an underlying reason for the Civil War, a fundamental reason for the Emancipation Proclamation and a keynote of equality ever since.

Every president of the United States is sworn into office, by reciting an oath while he has one hand on the Bible. The oath ends, “So help me God.”

Every session of Congress since 1777 commenced with a prayer by a minister paid by the taxpayers.Every military service of the United States pays uniformed religious ministers for the officers and men in service. These ministers are from all faiths that recognize the importance of God in human life. Nearly every base has a chapel.

The Ten Commandments are carved into the doors of the Supreme Court and appear prominently in the court’s chambers.

Every piece of U.S. currency bears the words “In God We Trust.”

In America, you are even free to start your own religion. Nobody (except possibly the Internal Revenue Service) will interfere, so long as you don’t do anything outside the normal bounds of decent behavior.

So, as we all celebrate the blessings of American freedom, justice and government every day, perhaps we should reflect upon the roots and tenets of our democracy. We are not a Godless people. Or are we?

Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed.

I am one of those historians that thinks the Founders were pretty smart. Their belief in God, hope and prayer encourages me every day.

So help me God.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Gay Bishop to Offer Prayer at Obama Event

January 12, 2009

Jesus didn’t work this hard picking the disciples….

Related:
Obama’s Path to Faith Was Eclectic, Diverse

*****************

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday’s event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Associated Press

Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama ... 
Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) stands next to moderator Pastor Rick Warren at the Civil Forum on the Presidency at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California in this August 16, 2008 file photo. President-elect Obama has chosen Warren, who opposes gay marriage, as a speaker at his inauguration, creating a commotion over what inclusiveness will mean for his administration.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files (UNITED STATES)

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn’t believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won’t go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

“It’s important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way,” Robinson told the newspaper for a story in Monday’s editions. “Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters.”

Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, said Robinson was invited because he had offered his advice to Obama during the campaign and because of his church work. When asked whether Robinson was included to calm the Warren complaints, he said Robinson is “an important figure in the religious community. We are excited that he will be involved.”

 
Some of these guys had to be gay….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090112
/ap_on_re_us/gay_bishop_obama

Obama’s Peace of Mind: Rick Warren and a Holy Host of Others Still Compete to Ruin It

December 31, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama’s many well intentioned friends could still, at just about any time, ruin his day.

Such is the fun and the tragedy of American Politics.

Rick Warren still has a prayer to deliver in behalf of President Obama on his Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

(This essay was written before the Inaguration.  To read Rick’s Inauguration Day prayer go to:
 Rick Warren Inaugural Prayer Transcript)

We pray that Pastor Warren is reserved and cautious, but that is not his way.

Rick Warren has, at times, been the Rod Blagojevich of the ministerial tribe.

“Jesus Christ what a bad selection for the prayer,” one pundit said to us.  “What will gays say?  I thought Rick didn’t have a prayer with Obama.”

Well, gays have spoken and they are offended.

And if Rick Warren does “have a prayer” and uses the name of Jesus Christ in his invovation others will be offended too.

In fact, there is already a lawsuit to remove the words, “So help me God” from the presidential oath of office.

Then there is Blago himself and respected Democratic U.S. House of Representatives member Bobby Rush of Chicago.

By turning the Illinois U.S. Senate Seat once held by Mr. Obama into a race-reserved monolith in the Senate, all involved seem to be seeking shame and not repentance.

Then we have Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid,  Rahm Emanuel and a host of other infighters on Mr. Obama’s “side.”

Let’s hope Barack Obama isn’t swallowed by the axiom, “When you are doing this well, you can only go down….”

This year 2009 should be terrific!  Even before Barack gets “help” from Medvedev, Putin, Ahmadinejad, etc……

President-elect Barack Obama asks members of the public sitting ... 
What? Me worry? Obama truies to hush critics… and supporters! President-elect Barack Obama asks members of the public sitting on a wall to silence their cheers for him as his golf partners play the 18th hole at a private course in Kailua, Hawaii Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Related:
 Obama’s Other Choices After Rick Warren for Prayer
.
Obama’s Rick Warren Pick: Glib, Callous, Conscious

*********************

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

President-elect Barack Obama‘s choice of Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation drew one kind of protest. Whether the evangelical pastor offers the prayer in the name of Jesus may draw another. At George W. Bush‘s 2001 swearing-in, the Revs. Franklin Graham and Kirbyjon Caldwell were criticized for invoking Christ. The distinctly Christian reference at a national civic event offended some, and even prompted a lawsuit.

Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Warren would say only that, “I’m a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray.”

“Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God,” Warren wrote. His spokesman would not elaborate.

Evangelicals generally expect their clergymen to use Jesus’ name whenever and wherever they lead prayer. Many conservative Christians say cultural sensitivity goes way too far if it requires religious leaders to hide their beliefs.

“If Rick Warren does not pray in Jesus’ name, some folks are going to be very disappointed,” Caldwell said in a recent phone interview. “Since he’s evangelical, his own tribe, if you will, will have some angst if he does not do that.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081231/ap_o
n_go_pr_wh/rel_inauguration_prayer

***************

From Fox News
.
The head of an atheist group that has filed a lawsuit against prayer at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration says the government is picking a winner between “believers” and “those who don’t believe” and subjecting atheists and agnostics to someone else’s religious beliefs.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has joined with Michael Newdow, who fought to have the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, in a federal lawsuit seeking to enjoin the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration. 

The 34-page legal complaint similarly seeks to enjoin Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., from adding the phrase “So help me God” to the presidential oath of office.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2008/12/3
0/atheist-group-files-lawsuit-prayer-presi
dential-inauguration/

Pope’s Message of Peace, Stability: Warns of Ruin in Selfishness

December 25, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has called for peace in the Middle East and stability in Africa in his Christmas Day message.

Speaking from the Vatican, the Pope prayed for the opponents of the “twisted logic of conflict and violence” to prevail in the Holy Land.

BBC

The Pope decried instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Somalia, and lamented the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans.

He also called for solidarity in the face of an ever more uncertain future.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates christmas night holy mass at the ... 

Read more:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7799628.stm

********************

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press Writer

Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas message Thursday warned that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times for both rich and poor nations.

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Benedict declared that the “heart of the Christian message is meant for all men and women.”

The traditional papal Christmas Day message “Urbi et Orbi” — Latin for “to the City and to the World” — usually covers the globe’s hot spots, but this year Benedict also addressed the gloomy economic conditions worrying many across the planet.

Amid near daily news of layoffs, failing companies and people losing homes they can no longer afford in many parts of the world, Benedict’s words seemed tailored in part to the global economic crisis.

He said his Christmas message also applied to “wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081225/ap_o
n_re_eu/eu_vatican_christmas_15