It appears that the Associated Press has learned that there are Christians like Saddleback pastor Rick Warren who invoke the name of Jesus (!) when they pray and that it may offend some — notably people like journalists who hold to a faith that relies on human understanding alone. Warren, for his part, played it coy:
Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Warren would say only that, “I’m a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray.”
“Dedicate” his prayer to Jesus? What kind of people are these Christians? The Associated Press investigates further and finds this, courtesy of the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who invoked the name of Jesus at George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration:
Evangelicals generally expect their clergymen to use Jesus’ name whenever and wherever they lead prayer. Many conservative Christians say cultural sensitivity goes way too far if it requires religious leaders to hide their beliefs.
“If Rick Warren does not pray in Jesus’ name, some folks are going to be very disappointed,” Caldwell said in a recent phone interview. “Since he’s evangelical, his own tribe, if you will, will have some angst if he does not do that.”
This Jesus thing is tricky. Everybody knows that the only people allowed to invoke his name are liberal politicians bent on shaming conservatives into paying way more taxes. When it comes from an acknowledged evangelical minister it can only mean proselytizing. Fortunately, the Associated Press is on the case. Stay tuned.