Saturday, April 17, 2010

Judge Declares National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

Here we go again. A federal judge in Madison, WI, has declared our annual national day of prayer to be unconstitutional. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said the day violates the "separation of church and state."

While he would not have put it in those words, Thomas Jefferson might have agreed. He did not declare a national day of prayer while he was President (he declared days of prayer for Virginia when he was governor of that state). However, keep in mind that he did not sign the Constitution, nor was he there for the debates. He DID correspond with those who were there, but then he used the phrase "freedom of religion" to talk about the importance of a Bill of Rights.

What about members of the Congress who wrote and signed the Constitution? They petitioned our first President, George Washington, to declare a national day of fasting and prayer, which they did. Why did the courts back then not find this unconstitutional? Perhaps because it was not. The First Amendment was written by the same men who also wanted a day of prayer. Were those men confused? Befuddled? Stupid? Or is it barely possible that they understood the intent of the First Amendment better than the current-day federal judge mentioned above?

Let's not forget that the actual words of the Constitution talk about Congress not being allowed to establish a law respecting an establishment of religion. A national day of prayer is hardly a law requiring any person to do anything - there are no "teeth," no punishments. And if it doesn't require anything of us, can it be said to be establishing a national religion? And the phrase "separation of church and state" is too loose a metaphor to actually serve as a complete guide to the First Amendment's meaning.

Read the press statement here:

Federal Judge Rules Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

Then read the ACLJ's amicus brief linked from this page:

ACLJ: Court Decision Declaring National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional 'Flawed' - Case Could End Up At Supreme Court

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