Michael Gaynor
Latest anti-religion judicial outrage: Judge Crabb rules National Prayer Day unconstitutional
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By Michael Gaynor
April 18, 2010

The First Amendment has never been officially amended, but liberal judicial activists have twisted its religious clauses beyond recognition under the guise of interpretation.

n 1947, in Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the nation that is supposed to be "one nation, under God" and trusting "in God" erroneously ruled that the United States and the States must be neutral as between religion and irreligion and refrain from supporting "all religions." In doing so, it went far beyond the institutional separation between church and state provided for by the religious men of various denominations who drafted and ratified the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Predictably, travesties of justice in the name of separation of church and state that would outrage the people who founded the United States of America, drafted its Constitution and adopted its Bill of Rights followed, from banning voluntary nondenominational prayer in public schools and Ten Commandments displays in courthouses to ruling National Prayer Day unconstitutional.

The person most likely to know what the religious clauses of the First Amendment were intended to mean probably was George Washington, Father of the Country, President of the Constitutional Convention and first President of the United States under the Constitution.

In 1789, at the urging of Congress, President Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation stating that "it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor." There was no caveat to the effect that would be so only until an atheist claimed that his or her sensibilities would be offended by such actions or he or she would feel like a second-class citizen as a result of such actions.

The joint purpose of Washington and the First Congress was "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:" (The Pledge of Allegiance had not yet been written, but Washington and the First Congress obviously perceived the United States as a nation "under God" and understood that the Lord referenced in the dating of the Constitution is Jesus.)

Accordingly, Washington designated a day for devotion to God, acknowledged God as "that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be," and called upon all Americans to "unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been able to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us."

Washington and the First Congress would have been incredulous to learn that their actions ever would be considered to be unconstitutional. After all, the Constitution had been established to secure "the Blessings of Liberty" and the federal government was calling upon all Americans to "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations" for the purpose of having God "pardon our national and other transgressions," "enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually," and "render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed" as well as "to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show[n] kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best."

Judge Barbara Crabb, no Washington, just ruled that "the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute as it has in 119."

www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-04-15-prayer-day_N.htm:

"MADISON, Wis. (AP) A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.

"U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.

"'In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray,' Crabb wrote.

"Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2008 arguing the day violated the separation of church and state."

Judge Crabb:

"I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination. Rather, it is part of the effort to 'carry out the Founders' plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society.' McCreary County, 545 U.S. at 882 (O'Connor, J., concurring). The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy."

The Founders and Framers never contemplated any declaration of "a National Day of Blasphemy"! Oliver Ellsworth, a Founding Father from Connecticut, wrote:

"[W]hile I assert the rights of religious liberty, I would not deny that the civil power has a right, in some cases, to interfere in matters of religion. It has a right to prohibit and punish gross immoralities and impieties; because the open practice of these is of evil example and detriment. For this reason, I heartily approve of our laws against drunkenness, profane swearing, blasphemy, and professed atheism."

The Adamses of Massachusetts knew that freedom of religion was not freedom from religion.

John Adams declared that America's independence "ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever."

His cousin, Samuel Adams: "We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come."

His son, John Quincey Adams, on July 4, 1837, the 61st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence:

"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day.

"Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation?

"Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth?

"That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before."

The First Amendment was intended to prohibit the establishment of a national church, not to prohibit national days of prayer.

Before the Civil War, Congressional committees explained what the establishment or religion entailed and a national day of prayer obviously was not intended to be prohibited.

After careful study, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a report explaining the establishment clause:

"The clause speaks of 'an establishment of religion.' What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt, to the establishment which existed in the mother country, its meaning is to be ascertained by ascertaining what that establishment was. It was the connection with the state of a particular religious society, by its endowment, at public expense, in exclusion of, or in preference to, any other, by giving to its members exclusive political rights, and by compelling the attendance of those who rejected its communion upon its worship, or religious observances. These three particulars constituted that union of church and state of which our ancestors were so justly jealous, and against which they so wisely and carefully provided...."

The report further stated that the Founders were "utterly opposed to any constraint upon the rights of conscience" and therefore they opposed the establishment of a religion in the same manner that the church of England was established. But, the Founders "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 the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of 'atheistic apathy.' Not so had the battles of the revolution been fought, and the deliberations of the revolutionary Congress conducted."

A similar House Judiciary Committee report explained that "an establishment of religion" was a term of art with a specific meaning:

"What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed, defining what a man must believe; it must have rights and ordinances, which believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined qualifications, to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must have tests for the submissive, and penalties for the nonconformist. There never was an establishment of religion without all these."

Judge Crabb's 66-page decision never mentioned these Congressional reports and instead ruled that the federal statute simply providing for a National Day of Prayer was an establishment of religion.

The First Amendment has never been officially amended, but liberal judicial activists have twisted its religious clauses beyond recognition under the guise of interpretation.

The Founders and Framers would be aghast.

© Michael Gaynor

 

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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