Indianapolis Newspaper Rids Itself of Prayer January 7, 2009

Indianapolis Newspaper Rids Itself of Prayer

The Bible Belt Blogger, Frank Lockwood, reported that the Indianapolis Star has decided to stop running its daily Christian prayer, a piece that has been included in the paper every day since 1963. The prayer held a prominent front page position from 1968 – 2000, after which it was positioned on page 2.

What struck me about Lockwood’s report was that he seems disturbed by the fact that the astrology column is allowed to remain in the paper. The first sentence of his article is:

Editors at the Indianapolis Star have decided to ditch Christian prayer but keeping pagan astrology.

He immediately followed that up with:

…Indiana’s largest daily announced today it is scrapping the decades-old tradition.

The horoscope column will be retained.

I take it that he thinks religion is somehow above astrology. I, for one, think that one is no better than the other as they are both steeped in superstition. Where they do differ and I do begin to see one as “better” than the other is when I consider that one has this nation in a stranglehold in many respects while the other one is relatively harmless.

The reasons cited for the decision to pull the Christian prayer piece are:

We appreciate that this has been a long tradition in The Star. But we are re-evaluating our mission and all that we do. I believe that prayer is a very personal thing and that offering prayers is something for individuals and their churches. We are a newspaper, not a church.

Also, we do live in a society in which there are many, many different beliefs. We respect all religions, and the prayer was written only from the Christian perspective.

Because of those issues, we have decided to drop the prayer. I’m confident that people will continue to offer their own prayers reflecting their own lives and faith needs.

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  • Richard Wade

    I take it that he thinks religion is somehow above astrology. I, for one, think that one is no better than the other as they are both steeped in superstition.

    Yeah of course you think that way, being a Pisces. 😉
    Kudos to the paper for following their proper role. The astrology silliness will probably continue for a few more decades. Fortunately most people don’t seem to take it so seriously that they actually live by it.

  • Based on that first sentence, I’d say Mr. Religion Editor needs and editor of his own.

  • Christians used to widely believe in “pagan” astrology ever since they adapted “pagan” natural philosophy into Christian doctrine. Galileo was an astrologer. The whole science of astronomy was once founded on the premise that one needed to know how to locate the planets at a particular time in the past or the future in order to cast horoscopes.

  • Eliza

    12 astrologic signs…12 tribes of Israel…12 disciples. Coincidence? Not according to this site and others. (The one linked is a skeptical site, though it’s hard to tell that till the end).

    The linked page helpfully quotes from the book The Jesus Mysteries by Freke & Gandy (whose claims should be taken with about 12 grains of salt): “Jesus surrounds himself with 12 disciples. This is usually taken to be symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel. This notion of 12 tribes, however, is itself a symbolic reference to the 12 signs of the zodiac in Babylonian astrology, which the Jews adopted whilst in exile in Babylon. The zodiac was an extremely important symbol in the Pagan world.”

  • Kurt

    It’s all well and good that the Indy Star is ditching its daily Prayer (which was tucked away on page 2 right next to the daily un-funny “Chuckle”, which survives).

    But I’m looking at a copy on my table right now, and it still has a prominent biblical quote centered right below the main masthead. It’s the first thing you see when you pick up an Indy Star: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” II Corinthians 3:17.

    So if they’re a newspaper and not a church, that quote would be the thing to remove. Methinks Mr. Lockwood need not fret too much about religion losing its sway in these parts. Time for a letter to the editor!

  • chancelikely

    Perhaps it was too much to get rid of the prayer, but they do need to save space. Perhaps the prayer and horoscope could be merged into a single feature?

    “Oh Lord, help us in our financial endeavours, remember us during our love troubles on the nineteenth, and protect those Cancers who have unwanted relatives dropping by.”

  • Pseudonym


    Galileo was an astrologer.

    Astrology, at the time, was considered a legitimate field of human endeavour. Like alchemy, today we properly think of the astrology of Galileo, Newton etc as “proto-science”, not “pseudo-science”.

    The main difference between them and what we see today is that today’s astrologers rarely, if ever, look at the sky, let alone try to determine what’s up there.

    I do happen to agree that it’s rich that they dumped prayer but kept the astrology column. Surely the only correct answer is to ditch both.

  • K.

    Good move on the Star’s part.

    I’m familiar with the paper, and always thought the inclusion of a prayer undermined its credibility.

    If the major Midwestern papers (and the cities that support them) want to increase their prominence, they need to be letting go of these backwoods “traditions”.

  • Lyz

    I’m confident that people will continue to offer their own prayers reflecting their own lives and faith needs.

    I don’t know why I think that’s so funny…probably because there’s the implication that some people think that the end of the newspaper-provided prayer will somehow diminish the number of prayers going up:

    “Marge, we can’t say prayers anymore! The newspaper stopped printing them!”

  • Pseudonym:

    I know.

  • Kurt

    Update to this story: After receiving “thousands” of letters, phone calls, and cancellation threats, the Indy Star has reinstated the Daily Prayer in its previous location. Not a huge surprise, since as I mentioned above, the front-page masthead features a quote from Corinthians. Oh well, one step forward, two steps back.

    Today’s op-ed page is filled with self-congratulatory Letters to the Editor on the Prayer issue, with headlines such as “Public roars, Star listens; results are good”. I would have thought there might be more important things to devote space to on a day like this. Like, for instance, I hear a rumor there is some new guy taking over as President of the country around noon-ish.

    For the morbidly interested, today’s Indy Star Prayer is for God to bless and hold Biden and Obama so that they do a good job so that we’ll all be blessed.

  • Thanks for the update, Kurt. I am incredulous… kind of.

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