By Matt Runde, May 9, 2010
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The opening line of the First Amendment to our Constitution is so clear. It leaves no doubt whatsoever regarding the intent of the founders of our country. They intended for us to have a secular government, so that each of us would be entirely free to worship (or not) as we see fit, in the privacy of our own homes.
The National Day of Prayer was originally passed in 1952. It was and is strongly advocated by evangelical Christians, a steadily dwindling subset of the protean religious sects in the United States. By definition, prayer is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Non-believers represent a steadily increasing subset of Americans, and they would much rather observe a National Day of Reason.
The framers of our Constitution would applaud Judge Barbara Crabb’s leadership in calling a government-sponsored day of prayer what it is -unconstitutional. In her words, it “goes beyond mere acknowledgement of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies non-adherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual’s decision about whether and how to worship.”