On April 15, United States District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, for the Western District of Wisconsin, struck down the National Day of Prayer statute, 36 U.S.C. § 119, claiming that it violated the Establishment Clause.
Did this statute require people to join a church? Did it force people to pay tithe to the Southern Baptist Convention? No. This statute did not even force people to sing all four stanzas of Amazing Grace.
So how is it that this statute was found to violate our First Amendment’s prohibition against the establishment of a national religion? Here is the exact wording of the statute:
The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.
All that this statute does is set aside a day each year for those that want to, to gather in prayer. This is hardly the religious persecution our founding fathers faced when they fled England. No one is forced to pray. No one will be required to attend church or take communion in order to be a citizen.
This statute is simply a reflection of our history and our heritage. It is fast becoming a national secret, but America has a religious heritage. We have a religious history. As Supreme Court Justice William Douglas said, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
From George Washington to today, Presidents have issued proclamations asking for national prayer. In 1789, both the House and the Senate passed resolutions asking President Washington to issue an exhortation to the nation to pray and be thankful. This tradition has been carried on by the many different presidents, has sustained us through national crises, and has continued till today.
But our nation’s history was of little concern here. The opinion stated, ““[I]f history is controlling, it would require the Supreme Court to overrule much of its establishment clause jurisprudence of the last 50 years.”
Finally, we get a concession from a federal judge that the last fifty years of jurisprudence has been slightly off the mark from our nation’s history! But in the end, the court struck down the statute because it was a promotion of religion in general.
Luckily for this nation, the court stayed its ruling until all appeals have been exhausted. Most likely, the Supreme Court will have the last say on whether our history will be re-written. And we at the Alliance Defense Fund will be employing every legal strategy to make sure our history, our heritage, is not so easily discarded.
Let President Obama know that the National Day of Prayer is important to you and to our country. Encourage him to instruct the Justice Department to appeal this decision.
Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts or follow us on Facebook to join the conversation. http://www.facebook.com/SpeakUpChurch