Systems of power always have their own priests to sanction their actions. This has been especially true of monotheistic traditions throughout history and for Christianity in particular in West Michigan.
For anyone who reads this website it is clear that those from varying faith traditions have also been involved in campaigns and movements for social justice. However, in West Michigan, religion often acts as an apologist for power or at least as a buffer, but either way the result has been devastating for thousands of people who have been subjected to poverty and exploitation.
This brief article is reposted from a November 1996 issue of the Indy newspaper, The FUNdamentalist. The prayer below could easily have been invoked at the end of the 19th century or yesterday from any number of pulpits in the area. Nonetheless, it is a reminder of how institutions function in the service of power and oppression.
It has been said that the LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids has one of the wealthiest congregations in the city. It has been home to members of the DeVos family and former Congressman Paul Henry. Therefore, it is not surprising when one reads the prayer invoked by Rev. Stanley Mast (pictured here), pastor at LaGrave Ave. CRC, a prayer that he read at a $1,000 a plate fundraiser in Detroit for the Republican Party.
It was a prayer in which Rev. Mast glorified wealth, at least that is how I understood the message. In the event that I am missing some ecclesiastical nuance that other people may be hip to, we reprint the prayer that first appeared in an August 5 article of The New Yorker magazine.
“Oh God, as we gather together tonight to honor important people in our country, we pause to acknowledge that you are master of the universe and Lord of the nations.
As we focus on finance and politics, we give you thanks for the gift of wealth, we thank you for the privilege of living in America, this great land of freedom, a land that not only allows but encourages the individual pursuit of wealth.
We thank you, Oh God, for the success so many of us have had in that pursuit. Bless our guests of honor. May their generosity and faith inspire us all. May the right people be elected. And God Bless America. Amen.”