The heresies in the UN prayer "To the God of the Free"
The heresies in the UN prayer "To the God of the Free"

By Zeeko | the catholic observer | 6 May 2020


The prayer "To the God of the Free" might sound Christian at first, but a second look reveals that is full of unchristian terms.

The UN prayer during mass

 

You can find the "Prayer for the United Nations" under this title in the Gotteslob (the hymn book for German-speaking Catholics) on page 20. It is actually prayed during services, I have myself witnessed this in 2018. However, I do not remember the occasion. It seems different than other prayers and it is dedicated to a political institution which always deserves skepticism. I researched this prayer out of curiosity and doubt but never found the time to write about my findings.

This is the version that you can find in the Gotteslob (in German of course):

Our earth is but a small star in the great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory. Grant us that courage and foreseeing to begin this task today that our children and our children's children may be proud of the name of man.

"To be proud of the name of man" is something that made me skeptical. I do not know of any passage in the Bible where pride is not portrayed as something evil. In many cases it leads to the downfall of a person, a people or a kingdom. For this alone, I had to research it.

 

The unabridged version of the UN prayer: "To the God of the Free"

 

At the beginning of my research I have found that this prayer in our Gotteslob is only a small section (here in Italic) of the original prayer:

God of the free, we pledge our hearts and lives today to the cause of all free mankind.

Grant us victory over the tyrants who would enslave all free men and nations. Grant us faith and understanding to cherish all those who fight for freedom as if they were our brothers. Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but for the days to come which shall and must unite all the children of earth.

Our earth is but a small star in the great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory. Grant us that courage and foreseeing to begin this task today that our children and our children's children may be proud of the name of man. 

The spirit of man has awakened and the soul of man has gone forth. Grant us the wisdom and the vision to comprehend the greatness of man's spirit, that suffers and endures so hugely for a goal beyond his own brief span. Grant us honor for our dead who died in the faith, honor for our living who work and strive for the faith, redemption and security for all captive lands and peoples. Grant us patience with the deluded and pity for the betrayed. And grant us the skill and the valor that shall cleanse the world of oppression and the old base doctrine that the strong must eat the weak because they are strong.

Yet most of all grant us brotherhood, not only for this day but for all our years – a brotherhood not of words but of acts and deeds. We are all of us children of earth – grant us that simple knowledge. If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed. If they hunger, we hunger. If their freedom is taken away, our freedom is not secure. Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peace – that he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best, not only in our own lands, but throughout the world. And in that faith let us march, toward the clean world our hands can make. Amen.

Reading this for the first time, confirmed my initial skepticism was not unfounded.

Purpose of this prayer

 

On the first of January 1942 26 nations ratified the declaration of the United Nations which can be seen as the founding of the United Nations. The UN that is today a supranational and mostly peace promoting organization. However, back then it was an anti-axis organization. The 26 signing states obligated themselves to employ their  "full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact" (Germany, Italy, Japan) and to not sign a separate truce or peace deal with those parties.

On the 14th of June, the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt held a radio address for the United Flag Day. In it, he promotes his own concept of the four freedoms, introduces the Philippines and Mexico as new members of the United Nations and has some words for the German and Japanese people.

What follows is the prayer, written by Stephen Vincent Benét who was bid by Archibald MacLeish to write it.

The Heresies within the UN prayer

 

"God of the Free"

There are many attributes and titles that the Bible has for God. However, god of the free is not one of them. You could derive this freedom from being freed by Jesus who freed us from our sin (Revelation 1:5), from our decency of Isaac who was the son of the free (Galatians 4, 28). The prayer does not make any biblical reference for this freedom. Instead, this freedom develops out of contrariness to the ones who are ruled by tyrants, i.e. Germany and Japan. Every Christian understands that God comes first and above all. At all times, in war as in peace, in misery as in prosperity, Christians dedicate their hearts to God. This prayer goes another as those who pray it, pledge their "hearts and lives today to the cause of all free mankind". The wording suggests that this God is the God of "all free mankind". The prayer tells us more about those that are seemingly free.

Children of Earth

Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but for the days to come which shall and must unite all the children of earth.

The Bible tells us that God chose out of this world and that we are not a part of it anymore. Therefore, we need to put to death our earthly side. In conclusion, the term "children of earth" is an unchristian term.

>>>If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15: 19

>>>So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. Colossians 3: 5

These are the passages in the bible that tell us that not only our god is not from this world but from heaven (John 8, 23), but also that he has lifted us out of this world. Therefore, we can deduct that people who are of this world and remain in it, the children of earth so to speak, worship another god.

>>>Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4: 4

Proud of the name of man

The bible is full of passages where pride leads to a bad fate. After all the proverb "pride goes before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18) is biblical. It is described as one of the "guilts of Sodom" (Ezekiel 16: 49). Deuteronomy 8: 14 already warns Israel after God has led them out of Egypt that pride will let it forget the Lord - it describes it as a confliction of the heart which corresponds with the psalms where pride goes along with a closed heart (Psalms 17:10).  "In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his schemes there is no God." (Psalms 10: 4) The exaltation of the humble and the fall of the proud which we find in so many passages in the Old Testament, finally resonates strongly in Mary's Magnificat: "he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate" (Luke 1: 51 - 52). There is no doubt that pride is directly connected to spiritual deficiencies but the pride of which this prayer speaks is a much greater heresy as it wishes man to be proud of its name.

The name of God is something powerful and holy. It is the second commandment to not take it in vain. We wish it to be hallowed in our Lord's prayer and nothing stands above the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost. The name of God is a construction to not directly mention the name of the father which was seen as a transgression by Jews. It can also be used when someone acts in the name of something like the law or the king etc. like when a prophet acts in the name of the Lord. The construction "in the name of" makes only sense in these contexts. However, the "name of man" is by nature always there to any human being, it is part of ourselves. It does not make any sense to conjure it in a prayer. Also, as it is profane. It is an act of perversion to mention it in a prayer as a prayer's purpose is to hallow God which this prayer does not do. And as it even wishes for our children to be proud of our own name, it wishes for man to commit sin or at least to indulge in its foundation.

Spirit of man/Soul of man

There is another quality that the "name of man" has but perhaps these terms, the spirit of man and the soul of man are better suited to explain it. First of all, the "spirit of man" is a non-existent word in the bible. There are the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the spirit of an individual and various other spirits that belong to God which are sent by Him to enlighten his followers ("spirit of wisdom" - Deuteronomy 34: 9) or to punish those who desert Him (1 Samuel 16:14; Isaiah 4:4). There are also spirits that befall people like the spirit of jealousy (Numbers 5:14, 30). There is, of course, also the mention of human spirits, sometimes translated as the spirit of man (Proverbs 18:14; 20:27; Ecclesiastes 3:21). But this describes the spirits of individual humans or serves to describe the conditio humana. However, this is not the case in this prayer as the "spirit of man has awakened" and "the soul of man has gone forth". This describes singular events in time. Therefore, it does not describe humanity in general. It sets man in a historic context which we can also deduct from the sentence that "man's spirit [...] suffers and endures so hugely for a goal beyond his own brief span". This goal is to fight the tyrants and to unite humanity.

The terms "name of man", "spirit of man" and "soul of man" sound unorthodox. But taking "pride" in the name of man or asking for the "wisdom and the vision to comprehend the greatness of man's spirit" is heresy. I will also note that the exact reason why the spirit of man has awakened and the soul of man has gone forth is obscure or unclear at best. I take them as a hint that these terms could refer to a secret lore background.

Collectivism

"If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed. If they hunger, we hunger. If their freedom is taken away, our freedom is not secure."

Again, this refers to a historic situation but the prayer also has a theological dimension to it. Otherwise, why would any liturgical office deem this prayer to be worthy to find its way to the hymn book of millions of people? It seems logical that a radical ideology that divides humankind into master races and inferior races in short or long endangers the whole world. However, the prayer goes further than that when it says that "if they hunger, we hunger". This is significant because the bible tells us, of course, to have pity with the poor, the suffering and the helpless and to help them. But it never politicizes this command. By claiming "if they hunger, we hunger" the UN suggests that the solution would be a political one, through some kind of state welfare the UN promotes until today.

"Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this bitter war, but for the days to come which shall and must unite all the children of earth."

It is a good example to demonstrate the unchristian base of state welfare. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is repeated several times in the New Testament. It commands us to love each other on an inidividual level. This is important because statist or socialist approaches to welfare neglect this kind of love. It is based on force and thus does not have any moral value to it on the side of the giving person. The receiving person, however, is entitled to the welfare. Thus, there is no room for mercy, sympathy, thankfulness and love. In this concept people are nothing but gear wheels providing and producing numbers.

Notice how this prayer does not mention the distinction of religion when it says that it wants people to be "undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory". Although religion has always been one of the most prominent distinctions in history. It is not mentioned in this prayer as it, in the fashion of a speech act, already creates a religious union with all those who recite it. The aforementioned heresies that mimic genuine elements of a Christian prayer are a part of something we could call 'an other religion'. But the prayer goes on to talk more explicity of this faith and its contents.

A common faith...

"...that man shall know bread and peace"

Faith is something that concerns transcendent matters but this "common faith" seeks its redemption in material things. Of course, it is important that people have something to eat which is why God will always provide for us (Matthew 6: 26) but peace as a "world peace" is an empty word. I think this goal which really has become common in our western society  - when we say "we strive or pray for world peace" is an illusion. It succumbs to the fallacy that you cannot fight for peace. Neither by military nor political means. How often has this notion backfired in our recent history? How often has it created only more hate and violence. Peace is something we can only find in God's kingdom.

"... that he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best ... throughout the world"

This prayer seemingly asks for humanity to experience having bread, peace, justice and righteousness ... However, the wording is strange in this context. Why would you ask for a "faith" that you will know bread and peace, would it not be enough to ask God directly for bread and peace for all humanity. Why the addition of a common faith to have material things - when faith is inherently bound to transcendent matters, i.e., the Holy Spirit, our connection to God, receiving the Eucharist... This wording enables ambiguity if it asks for a common faith "that [man] shall know justice and righteousness". Keep in mind that it is the original sin to dare to know good and bad independently from God, something which knowing justice and righteousness encompasses. 

It will never be heresy to pray for justice, righteousness, freedom and security.  However, a Christian prayer would place God above all else and would ask Him to give us bread and peace, justice, righteousness, freedom and security. 

Conclusion:

The UN prayer is set in a context that is not Christian but worldly and political. It does not have God in its center but puts man in his place when it wants us to be "proud of the name of man" and "comprehend the greatness of man's spirit". It is a humanist prayer so to speak to a degree that is in no way compatible with Christian doctrine. It upholds the form of a Christian prayer but is in fact anti-Christian. The "God of the Free" is merely the address at the beginning of the prayer and cannot mean God as we know Him from the Bible. For it does not only not confirm with the Christian faith but opposes it.

This prayer is evidence that heresy has spread into the Catholic Church of Germany. I will also note that Roosevelt was an Evangelical Christian and a known Freemason but to connect this fact outlined here with that fact might be the task for another article in the future. Still, it is evidence that the political and intellectual elites of the US have succumbed to heresy. This is at least true forthe particular case of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stephen Vincent Bené. However, they probably represent only the tip of the iceberg.

If you are a Catholic, please pray for the German Catholic Church and that God leads misled politicians (back) onto the right path.

St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, felling Donar's oak.

St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, felling Donar's oak (Thor's oak) near Geismar, Hesse.

Twitter: @CathObserver



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