Is the Lord’s Prayer Christian?

For years, the Sussex County (Delaware) Council has opened its public meetings with a Council member reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Beginning in June 2008, Americans United asked the Council to stop this practice because the Constitution prohibits legislative prayers used to advance one religion. In June of 2011, AU filed lawsuit; in December, AU moved for a preliminary injunction which asks the trial court to prohibit the Council from opening meetings with sectarian prayers while the case is ongoing.

This is nothing new. We have seen these kinds of cases filed for quite some time. Here’s the quirky part of it: the county’s defense is that the Lord’s Prayer is not Christian “because no Christian tradition existed” when Jesus prayed it. So, we have a group that is opposed to the prayer in a secular setting basing their entire case on it being Christian and a group that is in favor of the prayer in a secular setting basing their entire case on it having nothing to do with being Christian. All I can say is, Are you kidding me! If it’s not a Christian prayer, then why do we pray it together each Sunday in Christian worship?

This is another example in which the struggle for religious liberty has become more important than the truth. This is a case in which holding on to our rights has trumped embracing one of the most visible expressions of Christian faith. This is another example in which followers of Jesus have come to believe that the end justifies the means.

Can God be pleased when we undermine a key teaching of Jesus in order to expose people to Jesus? What kind of Christian witness are we presenting when we are willing to deny a significant practice of historic and universal Christianity in order to get what we want? At what point does our quest to preserve our rights undermine our ability to represent Christ? Which would be worse: to lose some of our rights but maintain our Christian integrity or to maintain our rights and lose our Christian integrity? It seems to me that Good Friday makes a complicated issue far less complicated.