Air Force Heathens Join National Day of Prayer
Hill Air Force Base in Utah held its National Day of Prayer on May 6th with the theme of
Lord, pour out your love, life and liberty, from 2 Corinthians 3:17.
The group heard “interfaith prayers” from a Catholic priest, a Protestant chaplain, a Jewish Airman, a local Mormon, and…a heathen. SrA Mark Udy is a beard-wearing “priest” serving the “heathen, Asatru, and Norse pagan community” at Hill AFB.
Interestingly, Udy spent most of his allotted time explaining to the group who and what he was, which is probably understandable given that it’s unlikely there were many people in the audience from his “faith groups” or those who recognized them. He did, however, cite a few recognizable names: Odin and Thor.
In a pluralistic government institution, it’s bound to happen. In some ways, what began as a national call to prayer that even Abraham Lincoln would have recognized has morphed more into a forum that Paul would have experienced in Athens:
While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols… – Acts 17:16
To continue that thought, though, Paul did not focus on tearing down or degrading their idols, nor did he mock them for their foolish smorgasbord of false deities. Rather, he spoke the truth and promoted Christ:
Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man… – Acts 17:22-24
With that in mind, is this “interfaith” day of “prayer” something to be criticized or opposed? It is true that some can improperly view the “ecumenical” nature of the National Day of Prayer — as did Chaplain (Col) Jimmy Nichols, the Fort Jackson Garrison chaplain:
It’s wonderful to come together like this where all the different faiths Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, and we all are united in our love for God…
While Chaplain Nichols’ point is understandable, it would have been more accurate to say “love for a god,” since Christians, Muslims, and Udy’s heathens don’t worship the same “god” and therefore cannot be “united in our love” for that god.
It can be disheartening to see a parade of false religions across a military stage, but that is also a positive sign of the religious freedom that the United States – and its military – protect, even for actively serving US troops. The freedom that allows an Airman to wear a beard as an homage to Norse mythology and tell his fellow Airmen about Thor also allows Christians to stand in front of the same audience and proclaim the Truth of Christ – and we know that Truth will prevail, as the oft-cited secular prophet Thomas Jefferson even said:
Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them. – Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1786
Should a military Christian attend a National Day of Prayer event where heathens, Muslims, Buddhists, or Satanists “pray”? That is up to each man’s conscience. While some may feel it grants legitimacy to “prayer” to false gods, nonsense does not cease to be nonsense merely by the presence of a Christian in the room.
For those whose conscience allows, if a Christian is granted the stage to represent and speak their faith to their fellow members of the military, why not take it?
You can watch the entire Hill AFB National Day of Prayer event here.