Obama Bans Ministers
by E. Turner Lee
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Citing the late Reverend Billy Graham's support of tolerance and fairness, the Obama Administration has prohibited religious ministers from taking part in prayer services on federal property.
Graham's evangelist son, Franklin, ironically became the first minister to be disinvited to appear at a Pentagon prayer service, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Army spokesman Col. Trey Tertiary III peated once and repeated twice that Graham's invitation had been rescinded because he had made negative comments about Islam.
"The reverend also has preached that Jesus Christ died for the sins of Muslims," Tertiary said, "a position that our great leader's administration has found to be inappropriate, inappropriate, inappropriate."
Initially the Pentagon replaced Graham with Sunni Muslim religious leader, Sheikh Amin Barru-Talmann, until it was discovered this morning that he had played a key role in the 1979 taking of 53 American hostages in Iran.
Lutheran preacher Watson Tievey, whose broadcasts are carried by the Dish Network, replaced Barru-Talmann at about noon, but then a Catholic general pointed out that Tievey's sect does not accept the Pope as God's spokesman.
Religious Society of Friends minister Warren Peece was then scheduled until U.S. Secretary of Defense Winn R. Luz pointed out that the society is commonly known as the Quakers and is unalterably opposed to war, even for political posturing. His invitation was pulled about 1 p.m. this afternoon.
Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate and a lay high priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was next to receive an invitation to pray, but critics pointed out that he believed in the Biblical Christ and not in the post-Biblical Christ as described in the Nicene Creed, which is accepted by most Christians. By 2 p.m. Pentagon prayer experts were searching for a replacement.
Eventually the Pentagon settled on Rabbi Bailey Wick of Chicago, Illinois, but when President Barack Obama caught wind of the invitation, it was quickly withdrawn. An unnamed spokesman, whose parents died in a suicide bomb attack before he could be christened, said the president feared that Wick's invitation could be construed by his friends in the Middle East to signify that the United States supported the creation, independence and continued existence of Israel.,
By 5 p.m. Obama had signed an executive order designed to prevent any future controversies over prayer services held on federal property.
"Regardless of what Rodney King famously said on May Day in 1992," the statement read, "it has become obvious that we all cannot get along when it comes to religion. For this reason and to comply with the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state, I hereby declare that no religious leaders may attend prayer services on any federal property."
White House Spokesman Robert "Bob" N. Weave said the prayer ban applies only to religious leaders in federal buildings.
"The prohibition will expand Jan. 1 to include private citizens and public officials and on federal land as well as in federal buildings," he said, "Vocal prayers and body positions commonly assumed during prayers, such as folding arms or placing hands together in front of the face, also will not be permitted out of respect for those with differing beliefs.
"Kneeling also will not be allowed, but an exception will be made for those wishing to kneel in a prostrate position as long as the supplicant is facing Mecca. This exception is made to ensure that adherents of politically unpopular religions are made to feel welcome in the U.S., which could serve to reduce the likelihood of terroristic attacks on our soil.
"A consideration to prohibit silent prayers was debated in the Oval Office this afternoon, but eventually it was decided that enforcement would be difficult, which could waste taxpayer dollars that could be better spent in rescuing businesses that are too big to fail. Therefore, the official position is 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
National Parks Service Fineas Sid Raine urged citizens to visit federal sites where vocal prayer services are commonly held before the complete ban goes into effect. He cited Arlington National Cemetery, The Soldier's and Airmen's Home, Oklahoma City National Memorial, Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial as places such prayers commonly occur.
Quotes of the Day
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...." — First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States
"My faith is one that admits some doubt." — Barack Obama