If your email box is like mine you receive all sorts of crazy things from Nigerians who want to become your new best friends, the neverending messages that hawk viagra, and all of those cutesey flashing, scrolling messages of some sort or another that your Aunt Fanny likes to forward to you….all day long. Between my email address at History Is Elementary, the separate one for Georgia on My Mind, another for Got Bible, a family address, and addresses for my husband’s business we have quite a bit of cyber-messages floating about. It’s a full time job just to delete most of them, but every now and then you receive a forwarded message that sparks interest. A message that begs for a little research or one that just makes you laugh or say to yourself, “Right on!”
Yesterday I received an email from a good friend that goes to my church. We both receive all sorts of things from friends and family but rarely forwarded them on. When I saw her message it sparked a memory regarding Rev. Joe Wright who used to be the minister at Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas. The email concerned a prayer that he gave as an invocation for the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka on January 23, 1996.
Here is Rev. Wright’s prayer:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ.
This version is a bit different than the email I received …..I copied it directly from Rev. Wright’s page here.
The prayer gives you quite a bit to think about, huh?
It caused a bit of a ruckus in the following days after it was given. Since some of the emails that circulate about it have been changed as they have been passed along from person to person I thought I’d do a little research.
Here’s what I found out.
Rev. Wright was invited to give the invocation as many religious leaders are invited to do across the United States. Many of the messages that have circulated state he gave the prayer to open a session of the Kanasas Senate….others state he gave the prayer to open a session of the U.S. Senate. Many of the debunking sites on the Internet verify it was the Kansas Senate and Rev. Wright’s site verifies it was the Kansas Senate as well.
Most messages and Rev. Wright’s site advises many of the legislators walked out in protest of the prayer, but a news report from the Kansas City Star (I found a link to the story in the paper’s archives but didn’t want to pay $2.50 for the url) reported only one legislator walked out and a few others spoke out against the prayer. The Kansas House Minority Leader made it a point to call Rev. Wright’s prayer an example of “extreme radical views”. Another legislator called the prayer intolerant.
Rev. Wright left the Kansas Senate chamber that day unaware he had caused an uproar. Later he stated, “I was speaking to God…..not the legislators.”
Snopes, a well known website for debunking erroneous email messages and news stories advises Rev. Wright’s prayer was not totally written by him but inspired by a prayer given at the Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort, Kentucky by Rev. Bob Russell in 1995. Rev. Russell was the pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. This is nothing new. Pastors inspire other pastors just as educators inspire other educators. I’m notorious for lifting a good idea form another teacher. It's how we roll! :)
Other have used the prayer for invocations following Rev. Wright including the Chaplain Coordinator of the Nebraska legislature in February, 1996 and Republican Representative Mark Paschall for the Colorado House of Representatives.
Snopes also provides a copy of one of the email versions and what they call the actual prayer Rev. Wright gave. There is a little difference in the one provided in the email.
Rev. Joe Wright has never been on to shy away from a controversy. A position statement regarding abortion can be found here at the Central Christian Church. Rev. Wright has been very active regarding the issue of abortion and was very instrumental regarding Kansas legislation against same-sex marriage.
It would seem that the prayer given that morning on January 23, 1996 has made its way around the Internet world many times. In fact it has gotten the notice of Muslims. This article from The Briefing titled Turning a Christian Prayer into Muslim Propaganda is very upsetting and very telling about how we must all be careful about things we see and read in print or on the Internet.
At one point I believe Central Christian Church had the prayer up at their website along with information concerning the number of phone calls they had received about the prayer. Some sites and email claim 5,000 calls while others have given a number as high as 6,500 in support of the prayer.
One thing is for certain….and I truly believe this….even though the statisticians and poll takers want to promote the message that anything goes and there are no absolutes in America there are more Americans who believe the message this prayer promotes than those who want to paint the prayer as mean-spirited and radical.
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