The clip that follows is of a minister who has been asked to pray before a public meeting. He uses the occasion to “pray” against abortion and same sex marriage. The minister is so drunk with his own brand of religion that he has no concern what his words might mean to anyone else.
Let me say, I consider religion to be the most important topic in the world. In religion we explore our core assumptions about the world. We affirm our deepest values and widest commitments. In religion we share the whole circle of life with a kind of art and poetry that requires great discipline and sharing. But religion is also the most intimate of subjects. Jesus said prayer was to be practiced in one’s closet. I don’t think he was speaking literally, but at the very least his words mean religion should be shared in a consensual community and not crammed down anyone’s throat who has not consented to those assumptions and to that vocabulary.
So when people ask me to pray at a public event (that is, outside a church) I consider the people of other faiths as well as those of no particular faith. I’ll give a blessing, a devotional or a reading, but I will not do a prayer without the prior consent of everyone present. To me, religion is so deeply personal that I have a lifelong horror toward the practice of conspicuous religion. To me, showy religion fits in the category of eating with one’s mouth open or discussing ones sex life in mixed company. In my opinion, to attempt to force God’s love upon the world is the spiritual equivalent to rape.