On the July 15th edition of MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” Rev. William Barber II, “a member of the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC, spoke out against those that prayed for President Donald Trump after a photo was made public that showed pastors praying for the president at the White House.”
In a previous article, I commented on the impromptu prayer meeting and the media’s outrage. I showed how prayer for and with public officials is both biblical and historical. The Apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy that “prayers … should be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority…” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). On the duty to pray for kings and societal welfare, see Jeremiah 29:7; Ezra 6:10; 7:23; Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1. The kings that were ruling at that time, for the most part, were tyrants. Israel was under Roman occupation and using Jews to collect taxes for the Empire (Matt. 10:3; Luke 5:27; 18:11; 19:2).
Even so, Paul says “pray” and Peter says “submit” (1 Pet. 2:13-17). We know from other passages of Scriptures that praying and submitting did not mean that all forms of political subjugation were acknowledged and obeyed, otherwise, why would Peter have said, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; also 4:1-22). The Bible is filled with examples of holding civil rulers accountable and at times disobeying their commands (e.g., Ex. 1:17-21; Dan. 3 and 6).
Praying for political leaders does not mean agreeing with every view they hold or policy they promote. Many times, prayers are offered to appeal to God to change the heart of a king (Prov. 21:1).
In addition, as I point out in my previous article, it doesn’t take much effort to demonstrate how prayer was influential in the founding of our nation. Like today, prayer was controversial. Not everyone agreed that it belonged in politics, mostly because of denominational differences. What sect’s prayer would be the sanctioned prayer? Even so, prayer events took place, and calls for national days of prayer and thanksgiving were common.
Rev. Barber did not object to prayer, but he did object that these ministers prayed for President Trump. Here’s what he said:
[I]t is a form of theological malpractice that borders on heresy. When you can p-r-a-y for a president and others while they are p-r-e-y, preying on the most vulnerable, you’re violating the sacred principles of religion. You know, there is a text in Amos Chapter 2 that says religious and moral hypocrisy looks like when a nation of political leaders will buy and sell upstanding people when they will do anything to make money, when they will sell the poor for a pair of shoes, when they will grind the penniless into the dirt and shove the luckless into the ditch and extort from the poor. That is an actual text.
Rev. Barber refers to Amos 2. This is a good place to start. Judah was singled out “because they rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes” (v. 4). Yes, there is a great deal of religious hypocrisy going on today among politicians and religious leaders who collude with the State to steal (wealth confiscation and redistribution), enslave (ssupporting programs that make people dependent on the State), and murder (abortion).