Although I’ve never met Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, I did have a run in of sorts with America’s most notorious atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hare in the nineteen eighties. As I walked into a radio station to drop off tapes of my former radio show the DJ called to me from within his booth. As I entered the booth he said “we have a minister here that may be able to answer that question.” He pulled a chair up to the microphone and beckoned for me to sit. He whispered to me that it was a phone connection from somewhere in Texas and Madalyn Murray O’Hare was on the line being interviewed. My volunteering it seemed was already far underway so I acquiesced and listened to O’Hare’s questions. I calmly answered each question and the more I did the angrier she seemed to get. The final straw was when she asked me if I wouldn’t agree that all any minister was interested in was money. She said that even I was only doing ministry for the bucks. She missed by a mile when she asked that question. I told her that my present ministry was completely voluntary and I received nothing for my labors.
O’Hare was only a hair short of using four letter words in a wild retort that lasted so long I thought the DJ was going to cut her off. In fact only a few words later he did just that. I have been unable not to notice that in the cases of people I’ve met who were demon possessed that this same kind of anger always exists. They curse a lot and think nothing of blaspheming God. Also worthy of note is that the Bible says the last world leader who is completely possessed by the Devil cannot speak without blaspheming God or the people of God. john 3 16 kjv
I have been amazed of late that when I mention Madalyn O’Hare to anyone under twenty one years old; many of them do not know who she is. In 1964 O’Hare was said to be America’s most hated women according to Life Magazine. She was hated because she single handedly managed to get prayers removed from the American public school system. In the case of, Murray v. Curlet in 1963 O’Hare won a landmark victory which summarily removed prayer from our schools. She caught the churches off guard and the best of the clergy sleeping at the wheel. I have often thought that her complete victory that was done almost stealthily and with almost no resistance should be given much study. A comparison can made to the victories of Adolph Hitler who managed to swing a nation into the murky waters of the Third Reich, while the church debated theology, held rummage sales and generally slept until the water was too dark to see through at all. After that the responses of the church in Germany fell under the heading of…Too little, too late.
Perhaps like the turtle who through persistence and a bit of cunning finally took the lead in that famous fantasy race, Mr. Roberts may be America’s favorite to win as candidate for the Supreme Court. For the conservatives he is the top pick but even the most nervous liberals would have to back up a bit at Robert’s shining record. Now released to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is more than 5000 pages of material from the Ronald Reagan Library on the details of John Roberts government service. In a memo dated November 21, 1985 Roberts said he was critical of the decision to halt voluntary prayer in schools and that such a decision was essentially not mandated by the Constitution.
The race did not end twenty years ago in the minds of any Americans. The O’Hare grabbed the lead and if it were not for side issues in her life (much like the diversions of the hare) she may still be in the race. Rule are rules and side trips notwithstanding for the hare the turtle it seems is about to make a showing. Roberts can’t bring prayer back in single handed but he is the best scale tipping promise since the race began.
Will voluntary prayer in our schools heal all the problems our school system now faces? Of course it won’t heal all the problems. It may start to remove the insult given to the God that most of us worship. It may help to abate the insult of not acknowledging God to our most precious gift, our youth. It will also begin to balance the unwillingness we have had to even mention him against his willingness to bless us with goods and materials above any nation in history.
Our newest self appointed enemy, militant Islam doesn’t flinch when it comes to prayer. Several times throughout the day Muslims stop everything they are doing to pray. Whether we agree that the God they pray to really be God at all is another matter entirely. Their dedication to these prayers should be enough to shame any Christian, any American. The Senate hearings may be what lead to the final decision about John Roberts but I submit that there is at least one thing we can do to help the outcome of the hearings. It is something we can’t miss again like we did in the sixties. You guessed it…pray!