The ruling by Carter-appointee federal district Judge Barbara Crabb declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional is, at the end of the day, not just about prayer. The basis of this decision is grounded in a fundamental hostility against public expression of the Christian faith.
Read the First Amendment language carefully – then read an excerpt from the opening of Crabb’s decision:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …
In my view of the case law, government involvement in prayer may be consistent with the establishment clause when the government’s conduct serves a significant secular purpose and is not a “call for religious action on the part of citizens.” (emphasis added) (Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama/Gibbs)
All other legal complexities and the series of bad court decisions that our current judges are using as precedent to make more bad decisions aside, the cleansing of Judeo-Christian faith and values from law, government and culture is what this is about. In her decision, Crabb references a quote from John Adams’ letter to his wife, Abigail, describing the opening of the first session of the Continental Congress in September of 1774. In his letter, Adams relates that delegates Jay and Rutledge of New York asserted the body was “so divided in religious Sentiments … that We could not join in the same Act of Worship.”
She also mentions, “Eventually, Samuel Adams convinced the other delegates to allow the reading of a psalm the following day.” What she adroitly fails to include is another section of the letter where John writes that his cousin Sam:
… moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, might be desired to read Prayers to Congress tomorrow morning. … The motion was passed in the affirmative.”
John Adams described with great clarity the powerful impact that Rev. Duche’s prayer and reading of the 35th Psalm had on all present:
I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duche, unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present.
Given that the majority of that body also comprised the First Congress, which drafted and presented the language of the First Amendment, it is obvious to a rational, objective person who is not a “religiophobe” that Congress was neither religion-free nor antireligious.
What many don’t know is that the Bill of Rights was adopted largely because of the passionate opposition to the proposed Constitution by George Mason and Patrick Henry of Virginia. They did not believe that individual rights were adequately protected as defined in the 1689 English Bill of Rights. Madison, Hamilton and the other Federalists supporting ratification essentially had to promise a Bill of Rights to achieve Virginia’s ratification vote.
According to constitutional scholar and historian John Eidsmoe in “Christianity and the Constitution,” there was deep concern that too much power had been placed in the hands of a central government. Eidsmoe points out that, “The Antifederalists had some legitimate objections, and in some ways may have been more farsighted than the Federalists.” He also quotes George Washington’s writing about the opposition:
It has called forth, in its defence, abilities which would not perhaps have been otherwise exerted that have thrown new light upon the science of Government, they have given the rights of man a full and fair discussion, and explained them in so forcible a manner, as cannot fail to make a lasting impression.
Very clearly, the Constitution and the first 10 amendments as the Bill of Rights are intended to create a constitutional republic and then explicitly place a cage around it to restrain its power. Since every formational document, from the Mayflower Compact in 1620 to every state’s constitutional preamble, refers to our dependence on God, it is irrational beyond description to assert that government can only serve a “secular purpose.”
Anti-Christian organizations like Texas Freedom Network (the state ally of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) are not bashful about their basis of support for Crabb’s decision:
Although originally established by Congress in 1952 as a day of prayer for people of all faiths, in recent years the National Day of Prayer has been co-opted by the religious right to advance a politicized, sectarian agenda. This is due in large part to a deceptive and deliberate strategy executed by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private organization that explicitly excludes participation by any non-Christian group in its programs.
This decision was specifically about the Christian nature of the National Day of Prayer. I have several basic suggestions on how we address the immediate issue (given the nature of our current Justice Department’s leadership):
- Contact the White House (202-456-1414) and Attorney General Eric Holder (202-514-2001), and ask the Obama administration to appeal this case vigorously all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of religious liberty.
- Attend a National Day of Prayer event in your city on May 6. These events are not prohibited, and you can “vote” by your presence in massive turnouts.
- Never miss casting a vote in an election again and support God-fearing, constitutionally grounded candidates at all levels when available.
A nation whose leaders and laws demand that we reject the existence and/or sovereignty of God has no basis on which to ask for His blessings. How’s that working so far?