By Rev. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
Another landmark case ousting God from the public square has been decided. In response to a suit brought by a Wisconsin-based group of self-described “atheists” and “agnostics,” called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.
Crabb’s ruling contends that the tradition, which has been followed for more than a half-century is a violation of the First Amendment’s “establishment clause.” The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute,” Crabb said.
The Justice Department is not saying whether it will appeal the court’s decision. Perhaps the Justice Department will do the right thing, but it doesn’t bring much comfort when one considers Obama has shown an unusual sensitivity toward atheists, being the first President to mention non-believers in an inaugural address. Moreover, last year he opted not to have a National Day of Prayer in the White House.
Unquestionably, the ruling is erroneous and various solid arguments could be made to counter it. But perhaps to really understand how removed this decision is from America’s heritage, it would be helpful to look back to only ten years after the establishment of the National Day of Prayer (1952), to just two days after the Supreme Court declared prayer in public schools as unconstitutional. On June 27, 1962, a United States Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, stood and delivered the following speech to Congress:
“Inasmuch as our greatest leaders have shown no doubt about God’s proper place in the American birthright, can we, in our day, dare do less?…
In no other place in the United States are there so many, and such varied official evidences of deep and abiding faith in God on the part of Government as there is in Washington…
Every session in the House and the Senate begins with prayer. Each house has its own chaplain.
The Eighty-third Congress set aside a small room in the Capitol, just off the rotunda, for the private prayer and meditation of members of Congress. The room is always open when Congress is in session, but it is not open to the public. The room’s focal point is a stained glass window showing George Washington kneeling in prayer. Behind him is etched these words from Psalm 16:1: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.’
Inside the rotunda is a picture of the Pilgrims about to Embark from Holland on the sister ship of the Mayflower, the Speedwell. The ship’s revered chaplain, Brewster, who later joined the Mayflower, has open on his lap the Bible. Very clear are the words, ‘the New Testament according to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.’ On the sail is the motto of the Pilgrims, ‘In God We Trust, God with Us.’
The phrase, ‘In God We Trust,’ appears opposite of the President of the Senate, who is the Vice-President of the United States. The same phrase, in large words inscribed in the marble, backdrops the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Above the head of the Chief Justice of the United States of the Supreme Court are the Ten Commandments, with the great American Eagle protecting them. Moses is included among the lawgivers in Herman A. MacNeil’s marble sculpture group on the east front. The crier who opens each session closes with the words, ‘God save the United States and this Honorable Court.’
Engraved on the metal on top of the Washington Monument are the words: ‘Praise be to God.’ Lining the walls of the stairwell are such biblical phrases as ‘Search the Scriptures,’ ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’
Numerous quotations from Scripture can be found within it’s [the Library of Congress] walls. One reminds each American of his responsibility to his Maker: ‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with thy God’ (Micah 6:8).
Another in the lawmaker’s library preserves the Psalmist’s acknowledgement that all nature reflects the order and beauty of the Creator, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1). And still another reference: ‘The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not’ (John 1:5).
Millions have stood in the Lincoln Memorial and gazed up at the statue of the great American Lincoln. The sculptor who chiseled the features of Lincoln in granite all but seems to make Lincoln speak his own words inscribed into the walls.
‘…That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’
At the opposite end, on the North wall, his Second Inaugural Address alludes to ‘God,’ the ‘Bible’, ‘providence,’ ‘the Almighty.’ And ‘divine attributes.’
It then continues:
As was said 3000 years ago, so it still must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
On the south banks of Washington’s Tidal Basin, Thomas Jefferson still speaks:
‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.’
[These words of Jefferson are] a forceful and explicit warning that to remove God from this country will destroy it.”
George Badger, once a Superior Court Judge, Secretary of the Navy, a U.S. Senator from North Carolina, and a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, as part of a Congressional investigation once declared:
“The [First Amendment] clause speaks of ‘an establishment of religion.’ What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to that establishment which existed in the mother country…They intended, by this amendment, to prohibit ‘an establishment of religion’ such as the English Church presented…But they had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people…They did not intend to spread over all public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy.”
Perhaps the most sobering thought concerning the court’s decision is that carried to its logical end, a major reconstruction project will need to commence in Washington, as well as places throughout the country, to remove the monuments that remind this nation of its duty to God. Organic utterances will also need to be erased. And should this succeed, the atheists and the agnostics will have effectively removed God from government, but future generations of Americans will no longer have any moral compass for human rights or ultimate justice. God will be gone from the State and there will be nothing for the people to serve greater than their own vanities – the nation will implode upon itself and freedom will die.