Date: May 6, 2004
From: Jerry Falwell
If groups like the American Atheists and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State had their way, American presidents would not be free to proclaim National Days of Prayer for our nation.
"Declarations that Americans should pray, worship a god, or even read a particular spiritual text like the Bible, clearly endorse religious belief and have a sectarian character. They divide, rather than unify, Americans," the American Atheist website said this week.
Thankfully, such groups remain in the minority (for now) and our nation will continue in the tradition of honoring God this May 6. This tradition goes all the way back to 1775, and the First Continental Congress which called for a National Day of Prayer. That call to prayer secured for all time the fact that America was to be reliant on God. That is an undeniable fact of history. In 1952, Congress established the National Day of Prayer as an annual event by a joint resolution, with President Harry S Truman signing it into law.
President Bush is preserving the legacy of his predecessors, declaring Thursday as the National Day of Prayer. In his proclamation, President Bush noted that, in his first Inaugural Address, President George Washington "prayed that the Almighty would preserve the freedom of all Americans."
"All," in this case, includes the American Atheists. What members of these groups fail to grasp is that our nation's spiritual pursuits do nothing to discount the beliefs of others. American Atheists remain free to their non-belief while the rest of the nation pauses for one day to publicly contemplate the blessings of God on our nation.
America's presidents have routinely issued prayer proclamations that express the nation's dependency on Almighty God. Like it or not, our nation's religious heritage served as the groundwork for this land of the free.
Sure, some scoff at our tradition of national prayer, but I believe it is important because it compels all Americans to at least momentarily recognize that this nation has an ongoing practice of reverence and dependence on the Almighty.
Similarly, President Abraham Lincoln, on March 30, 1863, signed a Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day. It read, in part: "And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
On May 6, 1982, President Ronald Reagan said, "Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are 'one nation under God,' and our currency bears the motto, 'In God We Trust.' The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril.
"Yet in recent years, well-meaning Americans in the name of freedom have taken freedom away. For the sake of religious tolerance, they've forbidden religious practice in the classrooms. The law of this land has effectively removed prayer from our classrooms. How can we hope to retain our freedom through the generations if we fail to teach our young that our liberty springs from an abiding faith in our Creator?"
What remarkable words from an equally remarkable man! These words should inspire us to fight to regain our rights of public religious expression that our Founders secured for us.
Meanwhile, as we prepare to participate in the National Day of Prayer, may we remember the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, "Without God there could be no American form of government nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the ... most basic expression of Americanism."
That's America in a nutshell.