After Billy Graham lead a rally in Washington in 1952 and called for a day for the nation to pray, President Harry Truman signed the National Prayer Day proclamation in 1953. The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed against the proclamation in October of 2008. Have they won?
Federal judge Barbara Crabb says they have. The ruling will not be enforced until any and all challenges to it are dealt with; including any opposition the Justice Department decides to muster against the decision. The White House says that President Obama still plans to issue the proclamation for May 6 of 2010.
With mid-term elections looming only months from now any decision to drop the day would surely add to the growing dissatisfaction with the Obama administration. The move to restrain himself is seen as politically motivated by most and, it is not consistent with his previous stand on Christianity.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wisconsin said the proclamation “violates” the first amendment rule that prohibits laws respecting the establishment of religion. When President Ronald Reagan made the day permanent in 1988 no one could have seen the anti-Christian attitude that would prevail only a few decades later.
Our national identity and our Christian roots are being ignored, denied or challenged on every level. President Obama’s administration started off in the same vein with his now famous proclamation that America is “not a Christian nation.” Of course we are not a “Christian” nation because there is no such thing.
Christianity is something each individual must decide upon for themselves. Jesus said “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mk 8:34b) More accurately we are a nation that was founded on Christian principles and up to now has had more praying Christians than any other nation in history.
In fact whenever any religion becomes the “national religion” it ceases to be spiritual and can only become tyrannical. If by not ascribing to the national religion you become a law breaker what would most people do?
We know that it’s universally acceptable to refer to some places as Muslim nations but somehow we are ashamed to be called a Christian nation. We also know that if Muslims were denied their right to pray five times per day facing Mecca in Saudi Arabia they would riot, war and die fighting against that ruling. Perhaps that may not seem like a problem at the moment but with an unprecedented number of Muslim Mosques under construction in the U.S., what’s next? Will employers bring the five interruptions per day to the work schedule to a federal judge for a ruling? Reaction to that ruling, if negative, is something we don’t want to imagine.
If viewed in its converse form, we could say that when secular forces of atheism, agnosticism and anti-Christian bigotry go to the law against prayer in our national life, it is they who have decided to get the fed to make laws regarding the establishment or more accurately, the dis-establishment of religion. This may be the very argument used to challenge the ruling.
It is not enough for atheists and agnostics to say that God doesn’t exist or that if he does no one can prove it but they seem to have crossed the line into other people’s perceptions and experiences with God. They are like those spoken of by the Apostle Paul who don’t want even the whisper of an allusion to God to be used in any public format. Paul said they are among those who “…did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” (Ro 1:28a)
Unfortunately those who are so bent on removing all allusion to God are rewarded with a state of spiritual darkness Paul referred to as “reprobation.” (Ro 1:28b) It never seems to occur to those fighting America’s Christian foundations that because they live in America they can choose to be as godless as they like, but they have no mandate and no actual chance of success in leading the entire nation to a state of “reprobation” along with them.
The attempt to remove all allusion to God hit home for me when I recently took my wife to see the highly acclaimed Possibility Productions movie called Letters to God. My wife noted as we entered the theatre that over the door to each separate showing room was a digital marquee with the full name of each respective movie fully written out. On the film Letters to God, the digital marquis read only, “Letters to G.” I thought the sign may have been broken so I went to the opposite side of the two sided marquis only to find it written in exactly the same way.
While the ACLU and others spend big bucks to fight crosses at memorials, nativity scenes, prayer in the Congress or any public place, prayer in the military and classroom mentions of God, why haven’t we equated that with a huge move to violate our right to religion and a willingness to engage the powers that be to make laws that adversely affect the establishment of religion?
Is it lawful to seek the law, to break the law? In the minds of some it most certainly is and, that’s why even if you don’t believe this nation is in decline you would be forced to admit that it is in a high state of confusion.
When space missions went awry or fanatics flew two airplanes into the Twin Towers didn’t our leaders call for prayer, didn’t we gladly pray. What’s next? In a national crisis can we call for the atheists and agnostics to comfort us and, just how would they accomplish that? Will it be illegal for the President to ask the nation to pray in times of crisis? As secularism approaches silliness what more can we possibly shed from our national identity?
If the Apostle James said “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you;” (James 4:8) what can we expect if we actively run away from God and, then make it the law? Not only will we discover the meaning of the Bible’s “brass heaven” (Dt 28:3) in which no prayers seem to be heard at all but, we will have left our nation out in that cold place where God simply looks the other way in our times of greatest peril.
This is a time to take action. Those of us who believe in the power of prayer must become active in resisting this law. We must support any organization that contests this ruling and sign any petition in circulation that calls for the repeal of this decision. Secondly we must pray more than ever before even to the point of making every day, a national day of prayer.
America is already gambling with a weak hand since our last ace in the hole has been played out as we let our friendship and protection of Israel fade and wax cold. If behind these changes we outlaw prayer, then we are skirting so close to impending judgment that the brush of angel wings can be heard at the door.
God’s protection in times of calamity, his defense in times of peril and his blessings the rest of the time hinges on two simple things according to the Bible. The first is our morality and our willingness to take his laws and mandates seriously. We have been giving the bum’s rush to those things for a generation now. The second thing is our line of communication with God. That line is our prayers and supplications which he has promised to hear if we are in sync with the aforementioned. Where is America today in light of these things?
Though often quoted it does well to remind all of us how that picture will be painted. It is not complicated but, so often the simplest principles are disregarded for the more complex answer. So far our changing political climate, our new slide into secularism and just about everything else we’ve tried is leaving America in a state of moral decline and weakness. Why don’t we try it God’s way?
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Ch 7:14)
Although it is quoted far less it is important to note the promise that follows 2 Chronicles 7:14 because it is the best part. “Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” (2Ch 7:15)
Copyright ©2010 Rev. Michael Bresciani