As I mentioned previously, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, signed a proclamation which declared a week in October 2007 as “Christian Heritage Week” in Alaska. Governor Palin’s acknowledgment of our nation’s history and heritage is welcomed and encouraging.
Governor Palin’s proclamation is part of a much broader tradition of presidents, congressmen, governors, and other public officials encouraging the public to reflect on our traditions or voluntarily pray and give thanks. For example, over the past two decades, nearly 40 states have issued similar proclamations on multiple occasions.
In fact, Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on our nation to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society by recognizing each year a “National Day of Prayer.” Each year, the president issues a proclamation as President Bush did in April 2008.
Governor Palin understands that acknowledging our nation’s heritage is consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and does not represent a government endorsement of a specific religion. These proclamations are based on historical fact and simply encourage those who are willing to do so to celebrate our nation’s heritage. No person is compelled to engage in religious activity or penalized for failing to do so. Acknowledging our heritage does not violate the Constitution.