Excerpted from the Presidential Proclamation, calling for a Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2011:
In honor of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer...
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer...
That's a tough call for me. Compassion for the countless lives and limbs lost in conflicts around the world drives me to despair. As an atheist, however, I am skeptical about appealing to the deaf, dead, and the invisible to make permanent peace on earth. In the end, compassion trumped my skepticism, and I allowed myself to pray. Here is my prayer:
Yeh Allah and Oh Ellohim, please calm your warring tribes of Arabs and Jews, and bring an end to this bloody conflict of your making in the Middle East.
Yeh Allah and Oh God, please stop the suicide bombers and the drone attacks that kill thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, who are just going about their everyday life.
Yeh Allah and Hey Ram, please stop fighting your battles for supremacy with bombs, bullets, and stones. It doesn't matter diddly-squat to the people of Kashmir, which one of you rules over them.
It looks like you and your minions have nothing to do but constantly fight over who the alpha dog... er... god... is. Idle mind, as I say, is god's workshop! Get a life, and:
Stop the torturing and murdering of "child witches" in Africa and elsewhere.
Renounce your preference for male offspring. Millions of girls have gone missing in India due to female infanticide and selective abortions.
Stop mutilating the genitals of children. They are, after all, organs that you allegedly designed for assisting you in creation.
Don't hate women for wanting to be educated, for wanting to be attractive. It's a bad habit that you had imbibed from the day Eve ate an apple from the "Tree of Knowledge".
Don't punish gays and lesbians for flouting the ill-founded commands that you had issued when you knew next to nothing about biology and genetics.
Stop terrorizing humanity with earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, leukemia, AIDS ... According to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Yehuda Levin, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other vassals of yours, these are your making...
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. You are not a dork, I hear.
I leave you with this: please, don't get mad and vengeful against your own creations, even if you think they are your enemies. If you can't learn to love your enemies, how on earth can you bring permanent peace?