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April 16, 2010


Your parsing of this is way off. I don't know how you leap from "respecting an establishment of religion" to what you came up with. In this context respecting means to acknowledge. Establish of religion means an established religion. This seems pretty plain to me.

And I also don't know why you might equate a National Day of Prayer as a speech by an employee of the federal government. It's a day of prayer. National. It's in a law. Written by Congress. And we just got done saying that Congress can't do that.

Obama can have his prayer. That's all fine and good. But no LAW can be made respecting it.

Seems pretty clear to me.


It seems to me that a national proclamation is not a law. Correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Jerome, like many words, "respect" has changed meaning over time. In the 18th century it did not necessarily mean support or highly esteem. Rather, it was commonly used as we might use "in regard to" now. With this wording, it is clear that Greg's interpretation is correct.


The law requires the president to make the proclamation.

The colonies that had state religions wanted to make sure the federal government wouldn't establish a state religion (different from theirs).

That the wording 'no law' was used suggests that they didn't even want the federal government going part way into this process.

So I think it's reasonable to say they meant for the federal government to refrain from religious practice entirely.


They can call the National Day of Prayer "unconstitutional" if they like. It will not make any difference to me or the church I attend; we will continue to pray for America. We don't do it just one day a year either!

I think the wise response is not to get our feathers ruffled. Christians do not need proclamations to cover this nation with prayer. In fact, this decision inspired me. Let's double our efforts.

We are not to attribute this [First Amendment] prohibition of a
national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in
general, and especially to Christianity. . . Probably,
at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the
Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State. . . . An attempt to level all religions and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference
would have created universal disapprobation if not universal indignation.

The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance,
much less to advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects.

both quotes by Justice Joseph Story,

I am tired of the increasing battle against all things Christian. But I cannot be...I have children/grandchildren. How can I instill in them a resolve to fight this overwhelming hatred/rejection of all things Christian? Is this a beginning persecution? Or, an indication that Jesus is returning?

The problem with this whole day of prayer is not that a bunch of people pray but because the call for a day of prayer is coming from the government. If church's or private citizens want to declare a day of prayer on May 6th all the power to them but the government needs to stay out of it. The government must stay neutral and not just between different religions as some people have suggested but also between those who are religious (theists) and those who are not religious (atheists). Like it or not there are those that do not believe in god, gods, or any other supernatural being, and they do not pray. They shouldn't be forced to pray nor should the government make them feel like outsiders because they refuse to participate in this national day of prayer. Those who are religious would be outraged if the government formally called for a day of boycotting prayer or a day of recognizing the atheist belief that there is no god. This whole day of prayer is just another thing being used to try to falsely paint the U.S as a Christian nation. Why is it may people feel that the government be a theocracy? Do people not learn from history when theocracy lead to the dark ages, the inquisition, the crusades, etc, do they not realize that should they succeed there is no guarantee that their brand of religion will be the one promoted by the government. Keep the separation of church and state.

you should do some more research dan.

Maybe we should all read the Constitution again looking specifically for all the references to Christianity, God, and religion.


There really is nothing new under the sun, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says.

I see an interesting parallel, albeit on a much smaller scale, to the Book of Daniel in the squabble about the National Day of Prayer.

Mankind, much like King Darius in Daniel 6, can decree any kind of prayer prohibition that he wants.

What did Daniel do with the decree? Daniel 6:10 says, "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."

He simply ignored the decree in honor to his God.

Isn't this what Jesus told us to do when we pray? Matthew 6:6 says, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen."

While all of the self-imposed delusion of "separation of Church and State" is disheartening to Believer, mankind in his rebellion will continue to scheme and supress the truth, like a beachball under water.

You can try, and sometimes succeed, in holding the ball down. But the truth of God Most High will always win out.

And the antagonist will always be found fighting against the very God who made Him and allows him to be alive. This is grievous and should be met with tears.

However, I need not remind you who always wins.


I've always ignored the decree/proclamation - in that I have not prayed.

But we have 'government of the people'. And since I don't believe the government should be telling the people when or whether to pray, I support striking down the law that requires the president to make the decree.


The National Day of prayer does not, in and of itself, establish nor endorse any particular religion. Because of this Christians should be opposed to the National Day of prayer because it encourages generic prayer which is an offense and blasphemy before the One true God. It does no good to encourage someone to pray unless you have already taught that person who to pray to...and that would be the One true and triune God who sent His only Son Jesus to live a perfect life FOR US, to die a sacrificial death FOR US, and rise from the dead FOR US. Christian churches should speak out against any form of generic prayer and generic prayer to a generic god is the only type of prayer that our government can constitutionally encourage.


The NDP law doesn't fully establish or endorse any particular religion.

But it endorses prayer and it endorses monotheism.

Madison wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

He could have written, "Congress shall not establish a religion."

That wording would be simpler if full establishment of a religion were all Madison meant to ban. But it wasn't: he meant to ban any step toward an establishment of religion.


"So I think it's reasonable to say they meant for the federal government to refrain from religious practice entirely."

If it was clear to the founders that all religious activity was to be kept out of government, they did a poor job of practicing it.


Well ok, I admit some things they did disappoint me. But, considering the time and considering they were politicians in that time, they rocked.


Ron, I think the reason they rocked is directly related to the reason they disappointed you, go figure. :)


Well.. frankly don't know what to say.

Hey everyone, "I don't pray".

Truly a very unique negative statement.

An outspoken advocate of non-praying. I still somewhat feel in intellectual neutral.

This is a fantastic book on this (and other) topics:

Information for Greg,

To let Greg know that Japan is not by any stretch of imagination a police state. It's form of government is a Constitutional Monarchy, very similar to Great Britain. The Monarch -- in this case the emperor -- is a figurehead only and has no real power.


You said, "I still somewhat feel in intellectual neutral." What did you mean by that?



that you felt the need to tell everyone that you don't pray.

as if this is supposed to impress or add something of value to the conversation at hand.


In a survey in 2008 Americans were asked how often they pray "outside of attending religious services". This is how they answered:

38% Several times a day
20% Once a day
14% A few times a week
3% Once a week
6% A few times a month
11% Seldom
7% Never
2% Don’t know/Refused
100% Total

If I thought there was a God who'd hear me I'd pray all the time. I'd be in that 'Several times a day' group. For sure.

And I'd pray well. I'd make it my business to learn the right ways and wrong ways to pray (whatever they might be) and I'd pray accordingly.

But I think few people actually think prayer works. How could you think it possible to talk to God and then only do so 'Seldom' or even 'Once a day'?

These people tell others they believe there's a God who hears their prayers. They tell it to themselves. But they don't act like it.

What do you think? If people really believed would they pray the way the do? Would the live the way they do?


>>What do you think? If people really believed would they pray the way the do? Would the live the way they do?>>

I think this assumes that every decision we make is merely the result of a chain of reasoning. There are MANY factors that might cause one to not pray as often as they could or would or should (time, energy, people like you who bombard them with the idea that it's useless..., etc.) Concupiscince (sp?) is also at work. Prayer is also more than simply "talking to God". Our work can be a form of prayer, as can simply trusting in divine providence. It is a rush to judgment that says, "you don't pray that often, therefore you don't really believe what you claim". False.

You are right on one count...we ought to pray more, especially if we believe what we claim. Thanks for the encouragement.


I'm personally not that interested in the debate about the holiday's Constitutionality.

I'm very interested in why fellow Christians and/or religious people would want the government giving us a national holiday to do so.


your stats don't mean anything to me.

the stats tell me nothing of the God who is there.

just because most americans only talk to their dad one time a year (hypothetical statement) doesn't equate to tell me anything about their father or "if he really exists".

this is why you simply cannot judge the accuracy or truth-claim of any religion on its self-professed followers.

plus, your survey says "religious" people. how do we define prayer for the Hindu who doesn't even believe in the personal God that monotheists do.
of course, they don't pray effectively, they don't even pray to a personal god.

these stats don't move me in the slightest to your position. people who claim to be God's followers do all kinds of immoral things than just "not praying". this only tells of man's predicament and peril as a sinner on death row with a stay of execution by His Sovereign.

so your point only makes mine all the more.


One believes prayer can work and doesn't have time or energy for it? Well all I can say is if I thought it would work I'd find time and energy for it.

If you are right that my bombardment can stop people from praying (I'm not sure it can) I'd think that would be because I'm changing their beliefs. But this is what I'm saying: their beliefs lead to their behavior via reasoning, rationalization, or some other route.

I still take 'talking to God' as a definition of prayer. I don't mean you have to speak aloud or even use silent words. Whatever form it takes to the extent it is prayer it fails and to the extent it succeeds it's not prayer.


Wait. Is there a ryan and a Ryan?

I haven't read the judge's opinion. I wonder how she deals with Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation.


Here's the opinion.




How would you expect the judge to deal with Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation?


>>One believes prayer can work and doesn't have time or energy for it? Well all I can say is if I thought it would work I'd find time and energy for it.>>

What do you mean by "work"? Get God to do your bidding? Because that's NOT the Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) purpose of prayer.

>>I still take 'talking to God' as a definition of prayer. I don't mean you have to speak aloud or even use silent words.>>

Again, not the Christian definition. Why do critics of Christianity insist, beyond all correction, to argue against strawmen and redefine Christianity for them?

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