On September 12, 2001, the day after 3,000 plus innocent souls perished in New York’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and on a hillside in rural Pennsylvania, our nation was all about prayer. Preachers, of course, encouraged it. But so did politicians and film stars. Prayer was all the rage.
The humility of the moment made it so. We had been attacked. We were emotionally stunned and groping for answers to explain this new threat.
To its credit, Congress in the early 1950s needed no spectacular disaster to call attention to the Almighty. They had been through the tumult of World War II and realized a new danger had shown itself on the horizon.
In 1952 with the second war to end all wars as a backdrop and a Communist threat very much in the forefront, Congress decided it appropriate to set aside a day for prayer. Among other things, its members wanted to differentiate our country from what they considered the godless Red threat. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan officially proclaimed the first Thursday in May as the day for Americans to join together in prayer.
But now a group calling itself The Freedom From Religion Foundation" has sued, and won a case in U.S. District Court against the government, arguing National Day of Prayer violates the separation of church and state.
In her ruling the Associated Press quotes the judge as writing, “(National Day of Prayer) goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgement’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context.”
Perhaps not, until, that is, the next humbling catastrophic episode assails our collective national senses.
The case is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court where it likely will not be upheld, given the balance currently in the Court. We pray not.