People can pray anywhere, anytime, any place. They can do it loudly or under their breath. In bed, in the shower, on the bus, waiting in line at a grocery store, before chowing down on that Big Mac, on a carefree day, or a day where it feels one’s life depends on deus ex machina. Anywhere, any time, any place. As much or as little as they want.
A government sponsored Day is not just unconstitutional, it’s unnecessary. And yet…
The event, created in 1952 and signed into law by President Harry Truman, was amended in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan to state that the day would be observed on the first Thursday in May. Organizers cite the day of prayer’s origins to 1775 when the Continental Congress encouraged the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation.
President Obama issued a proclamation last Friday as his Justice Department appeals a federal judge’s ruling last month that the day of prayer is unconstitutional.
“Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation,” Obama said in the proclamation.
The lawsuit challenging the day of prayer was brought by the Freedom From Religious Foundation, a Madison, Wis.-based group of atheists and agnostics. Protests were expected there and in Washington.
The lawsuit was originally filed against President George W. Bush’s administration near the end of his second term. The foundation argued the day violates the separation of church and state.
And it does. It’s wrong of a government to insist on promoting prayer, no matter how big a percentage of people happen to make prayer a daily habit. The government should have everyone’s best interests at heart, not just a select (and loud) majority.
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, is an outspoken evangelical:
“It’s just unfortunate that this decision was made by the Pentagon. The Muslims have their holidays that they celebrate at the Pentagon. They celebrated Ramadan. They have prayer services there. But for us Christians to have prayer services, and for them to object and for the Army to give in to their objections is something that I just don’t understand,” Graham said, adding that he and Muslims will never agree on the path to God.
He’ll have a case when an American president officially insists everyone in the country ought to celebrate Ramadan because it’s good for America to enjoy the peace and freedom that is Islam. Until then, he’s just a blowhard, and pissed off about getting booted off the list of speakers today.
How the Army got involved was a convoluted process because they did not extend the invite to Graham in the first place. That was done by the Pentagon’s Chaplain’s Office, but the Army is responsible for that office in its capacity as “executive agent.” When Graham’s past comments came to light, the pressure grew on the Army to decide whether it would let Graham still speak at the event.
The Muslim American advocacy organization, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) hailed the Army’s decision.
“We applaud this decision as a victory for common sense and good judgment,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Promoting one’s own religious beliefs is something to be defended and encouraged, but other faiths should not be attacked or misrepresented in the process.”
Another victory for common sense and good judgment would be nice. I’d like to see the appeals on Crabb’s ruling get dismissed or knocked down or whatever the legal term might be for “Over My Dead Body, Buster.”
Believe what you want to be believe, this god, that faith. Don’t believe in any gods at all if that’s to your liking. I think it should be up to everyone, regardless of who they wanted as president, to ask the man not to play favourites anymore. No group of people, no matter how many people there might be, should be that special.