The following quote is taken from a speech given in 1973 by Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) in support of Senate Joint Resolution 183, to proclaim April 30, 1974, as a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer. In reading over it, I am struck by how his words apply to our situation today, just as well as they did over 30 years ago.
“We are all troubled by the continual erosion of the American people’s faith and trust in their leadership in all parts of life. The current fuel shortage has caused us to reevaluate the legitimacy of our excessive use of the world’s natural resources. We witness a country torn apart with division and lacking the spiritual foundation that would restore its vision and purpose. We, as a people, through our own acquiescence to corruption and waste, have helped to create a moral abyss that produces a disdain for honesty and humility in high levels of national leadership…
“There is hope for a land and a people who have the capacity to recognize their sins and their faults, and turn from them. Repentance means precisely this – to turn the other way. In so doing, we recognize that past events and present conditions cannot be rationalized or justified; rather, they must be repented of, so a whole new way can be sought. This is how individuals and how our land as a whole can seek authentic renewal and transformation. So it is with this hope that I commend to the Senate this resolution calling for a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer in our Land.
“Whereas, we have made such an idol out of our pursuit of ‘national security’ that we have forgotten that only God can be the ultimate guardian of our true livelihood and safety; and
“Whereas, we have failed to respond, personally and collectively, with sacrifice and uncompromised commitment to the unmet needs of our fellow man, both at home and abroad; as a people, we have become so absorbed with the selfish pursuits of pleasure and profit that we have blinded ourselves to God’s standard of justice and righteousness for this society; and
“Whereas, it therefore behooves us to humble ourselves before Almighty God, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”