Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who will resign his position on Wednesday to begin his role as the Trump administration’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, is asking the public to pray for the country at large.
But Brownback’s public request for invocations and fasting have drawn the ire of some of his atheist activist critics.
The governor issued a proclamation on Monday that invoked George Washington and urged the public to pray for both the state of Kansas and the U.S. as a whole, The Kansas City Star reported.
Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause. -SDB
— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) July 27, 2017
“President George Washington, in his 1795 Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving called on Americans ‘to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience,'” he said. “I personally feel blessed by the time I have spent serving our great state and would like to observe a time of prayer and fasting before God takes me on to the next part of my journey.”
Brownback continued, “I invite all Kansans to join me as we pray for our state and our nation.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group, responded by calling the governor’s proclamation “super weird” and also illegal.
That's both super weird and unconstitutional, shame on Brownback! https://t.co/IiuUibbsyi
— FFRF (@FFRF) January 31, 2018
“That’s both super weird and unconstitutional,” the FFRF tweeted. “Shame on Brownback!”
The practice of praying and fasting, though, is pretty common in Christian circles and isn’t really all that “weird.”
It’s certainly a cultural practice that might not be too appealing to an atheist, as it requires making a sacrifice to focus on prayer to a higher power — something that they don’t believe in. But dismissing the practice as overtly strange or out of touch with eons of tradition would seem strange.
Fasting has, in fact, been going on in the Christian world for two millennia, as noted by GotQuestions.org, so Brownback’s call isn’t all that shocking, especially if he’s a devoted Christian who reads scripture.
We’ll leave you with a video that explains fasting in detail: