The theme for Thursday’s 62nd annual National Day of Prayer, according to the event’s website, was “Pray for America.”
Some chose not to do so and in our country they have that right, just as those of faith have the perfect right to come together and ask for God’s blessings on our people and our nation.
The appropriate venue for National Day of Prayer is outside a public building so as not to constitute an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. And the appropriate ceremony is interfaith, so as to be inclusive of all faiths to help bring us together. God knows, there is too much which divides us, particularly politics, and this was the day to put that aside.
Sadly, that message was lost on Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey.
This year, Americans were called on, individually and corporately, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator. Event organizers at the national level chose Matthew 12:21 as the scripture for this year: “In His name the nations will put their hope.”
But what Americans were not called on to do was to be partisan or political in celebrating National Day of Prayer, and Mayor Godsey did just that during a Christian church service held in the Sullivan County Courthouse’s commission room.
Godsey railed against President Barack Obama for “embarrassing us” with a “disgraceful” telephone call congratulating NBA player Jason Collins for being the first professional male athlete in a major sport declaring his homosexuality.
“I’ve been watching the TV this week and it appalls me, it just literally makes me furious, that we as a nation, as blessed as we are, what has been on the TV for the last week,” Godsey said at the service.
“What has been on the TV for the past week? I could stand here and preach today. It really and truly just irritates me to the point I just, you know ... on the TV all week long we are celebrating an NBA player coming out as a devout homosexual and him getting a call from the president of the United States — the most free ... God bestowed more grace on this country than any other country in the world. And yet we have a president that calls and congratulates and commends a guy (as if) he’s a national hero for coming out of the closet, per se. How disgraceful is that?”
It’s not the first time Godsey made the wrong remarks at the wrong venue and at the wrong time and to the continued embarrassment of Sullivan County residents of all faiths, all political persuasions, and all sexual orientations, it likely won’t be the last.
The National Day of Prayer is a forward-looking time for Christians to display unity and reverence, not openly dwell on perceived negative happenings in the world.
We don’t disagree that Godsey said what a lot of Christians are thinking. But National Day of Prayer is not a time for your mouth to go off without thinking.
It’s easy to be judgmental, but let us hope Mayor Godsey judges less on the next National Day of Prayer.