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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

False Prayers
A statement that I made on Saturday on the Yahoo! SWY stock board requires some explanation.

First, here's what I said:

The union knew they wouldn't be able to get within 1/2 mile of Burd's home. It was simply a publicity stunt, and a Satanic one at that.

This was in response to a recent action by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, who staged a pray-in near the home of Steve Burd, Chairman and CEO of Safeway. From CLUE's account:

Scores of religious leaders and supermarket workers, some with children in tow, had traveled hundreds of miles from Southern California to personally deliver a message to Safeway Inc. Chief Executive Steven Burd....they were met by security guards and local police, and a nattily dressed man who identified himself as Guy Worth, Burd's personal representative. "Our message to you is to please come back to the bargaining table and don't leave until there is an agreement," said the Rev. Sandy Richards of the Church in Ocean Park in Santa Monica. Worth promised to deliver the messages, then joined hands in prayers. He had nothing else to say. For some of the about 200 workers who took part in the clergy-led campaign billed as the "Grocery Workers Justice Pilgrimage," the turndown in Alamo was yet another indignity in the 3 1/2- month-old labor dispute between the United Food and Commercial Workers union and Safeway's Vons and Pavilions, Albertsons and Ralphs supermarket chains...."I want him to see our faces," said Hernandez, noting she was struggling to put food on the table. "I want him to know that we exist."...The campaign was organized by CLUE, or Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, a group made up of about 400 religious leaders in Los Angeles County. Thetrip began early Tuesday with a rally and prayer session at a Pavilions in Sherman Oaks, where Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders offered a succession of blessings, songs and good wishes, along with some choice words for Burd, who is said to be an active member of a church in Walnut Creek. "We are praying for this man, Burd, who has been so recalcitrant, so cold to his workers. He needs to know about the lives he is affecting," said the Rev. Jim Conn, urban strategist for the United Methodist Church of Southern California.

So, we had a wonderful example of a very public prayer by people convinced that they were better than someone else. We've seen this before:

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[1] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

This tactic is not only employed by the Christian left (or, in this case, the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim left). The same tactic is employed by the Christian right (or the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim right). But regardless of who exercises it, public self-congratulatory prayer is no prayer at all, but mere grandstanding.

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