City of Brass

City of Brass


freedom of religion and national prayer

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

From the perspective of separation of church and state, this is fantastic news:

A federal district judge in Wisconsin has ruled that the 1988 law creating the annual observance is unconstitutional.

According to the Associated Press story, the order does not block any prayer day until after appeals in the case are exhausted; White House officials have confirmed that Obama still plans to recognize the observance on May 6, now in its 59th year.

The decision however cautioned that stopping the Day of Prayer should wait until all appeals are exhausted, so it’s no surprise Obama will go forward with it anyway. Rev. Lynn calls this “a big win for reliigious freedom” and he’s right; just look at the FAQ from the official web site:

Is the NDP exclusively a Christian event?

No. This government-proclaimed day is offered to all Americans, regardless of religion, to celebrate their faith through prayer. However, the efforts of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with its Judeo-Christian beliefs.

As the FAQ also discloses, the volunteer chairman of the NDP Task force is Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson of the evangelical political group Focus on the Family. The entire event is dictated by evangelical christian groups and “judeo-christian” beliefs (with “judeo” marginally represented).

Even if the NDP Task Force were more inclusive, performing outreach to muslim and jewish communities for participation, it still would amount to a celebration of prayer itself, which itself ignores the reality that faith is not universal. The essence of freedom of religion is not just which religion, it’s whether to have religion at all.

Those of us who do have faith find value in it precisely because our belief is innate and sincere; a world where faith is state-sponsored is one that strips the concept of faith of its meaning. As is the case in the middle east, for example.

Incidentally, to his credit, last year for the NDP President Obama did not hold a formal observance in the White House as did President Bush during his tenure. This caused him a lot of critique from evangeliical Christians, who also faulted Obama for “allowing” muslims to pray on Capitol Hill. Christian groups accused him of “canceling the NDP” and then “observing” muslim prayers instead. It’s astonishing to me how these things become grist for the mill for the muslim smear and Islamophobia time and again. All the more reason the NDP must be abolished outright.



  • interpreter

    The Wisconsin judge’s ruling is another example of the war on Christianity being carried out by activist judges appointed by Democrats. That’s why I always vote Republican.

  • Benjamin Chung

    In my humble opinion, to celebrate prayer in the Christian context is to pray privately. Certainly it is against the teaching of our Lord to have a secular government sanctioning a certain day in order to pray to him. I think the lack of government take over of prayers and faith is the strength of this American country. Dobson and his wife have hijacked the concept of prayer and made it in such a way that imposes on all other Americans who otherwise disagree on this topic. Let’s return to the concept of Christian prayer, and do so privately, and no government take over on prayer or faith.

  • Mark Sudia

    Benjamin and others: The First Amendment clearly states the following:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of:”
    In my humble opinion, this means “Congress don’t Muck (or f***) about with the followers of any faith)”
    The issue of whether prayer should be Christian, Jewish, or Moslem, shouldn’t enter into it.
    Those of other faiths Should be allowed to practice their beliefs freely. . . or in the case of Atheists, to believe nothing as they wish.
    For over 20 years, there was NO Religion of any kind allowed in Albania. Once communism fell, the Albanian People are now free to adhere to their religious beliefs, what ever they may be.
    Therefore, freedom of religion means just that. . .people of ALL faiths are free to believe and practice their beliefs As They Wish!
    So, perhaps the National Day of Prayer is Unconstitutional. As long as we each believe in God in Our own way, and don’t interfere in another’s Free Expression of religious beliefs, the issue is moot.
    Also, consider this, if the NDP is struck down, how many believers of all faiths will consider it as the Federal Government trying to stamp out religion?
    Let us all concentrate on more important matters. Like keeping our Freedom and Liberty.
    Everybody please Read the Constitution, understand it, and act to stop the tyranny that Comrade Obama is trying to bring about.
    November is coming. Learn what the issues really are, and then vote to uphold the Ideals upon which this country was founded!
    Then, we will have the Constitutional Republic with a democratic government that I hope we all truly want!

  • Ivan

    Would you be surprized after such rejoicing if some people thought that immigrants are starting to annnoy them?
    That you rejoice a bit too much in the changing of their time-honoured traditions?
    I think you should be far more discreet.

  • Ben

    Hi Mark, thanks for the information about the 1st Amendment. I thought I read it in plain English. What I do understand is that NDP Task Force is a private event, maybe they could go national, but they will not be prohibited in the upcoming May day of their prayers. And the President will issue a proclamation to all to urge them to pray for this great nation. What I sense in your response is the fact that you consciously compare this great free nation to something like a communist Albania. Far be it from it, that this nation, under God, will continue to pray and act in the interests of the faith each one holds. But the 1st Amendment states the neutrality of this secular government, how not to interfere or prohibit the practice of religion. The Judge merely states in her opinion that the constitutionality of this NDP has impinged on the wishes of the American founding fathers.
    Prayer is an important of my faith, and I wish all should respect the privacy of my faith. I do not wish the marriage of politics with religion, and certainly taking cues from David Kuo, to hold a fast on political issues. If I wish to pray for my neighbours, pray by all means, every day and all the time, in private, not in front of them, nor to call out to pray like the publicans do so in public squares, so all can see their sincere, religiosity. My Lord taught, when you pray go to the closet, close its door. I merely am a Christian trying to follow my Lord and Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth. This, I do believe gives birth to this nation somehow, like the Reganites believed, that it is a city on the Shining hill. Please, pray without ceasing, but please let no government make laws on how I should practice my faith, and certainly no government take over of my religion.

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  • Your Name

    I believe that Religion and Politics are separated.The Politics have
    the Constitution as the Scripture,and on Religion,there’s the Bible for Christian Faiths and Koran for Moslems or Torah for the Jewish,so,
    to say our Prayers are clearly written in the Bible,there’s appointed time to do so,where God is listening and can hear us,no matter what
    faith you belong too,we all have our instructions we call it the Bible,and everyone should have one basic instruction and it’s just not right to argue anymore about prayers,everyne can read their own
    basc instructions and the issue of prayer is not to cause unorderliness to people,and it dishonors God too.thanks!

  • smiley

    I have issues with the NDP and as a Muslim, I do appreciate the idea and observance of the day but as an American, I support the seperation of church and state- those who want to participate can do so privately or as a large group but to enforce it as a National day is not fair to the diverse religous and nonreligous population of this country.

  • Abambagibus Numquam

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