'Day of Prayer' controversy

'Day of Prayer' controversy

April 23rd, 2010 in Opinion Free Press

Here is what the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says on the subject of religion: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... ."

So the First Amendment has two goals where religion is concerned: It guarantees the right to exercise one's faith and forbids Congress to establish a state religion, so no one can be forced to practice a particular faith.

Fifty-eight years ago, in 1952, Congress proclaimed a National Day of Prayer. Presidents of both political parties and believers from many faiths have since observed the National Day of Prayer without coercion, and those of no faith have just as freely declined to observe it. It has been a matter of free choice, not government force one way or the other, and it is coming up again May 6.

But recently, an activist federal judge in liberal Madison, Wis., declared the National Day of Prayer proclamation unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter, accepted the baseless argument of an atheist organization that the observance violates the supposed separation of church and state.

But that ruling shows a hostility toward religion that the Constitution never intended. The First Amendment was designed to prevent the forcible imposition of religion or the forcible prohibition of the exercise of religion. A National Day of Prayer proclamation neither stops anyone from exercising his faith nor forces anyone into any religious exercise. It is voluntary. As such, the Obama administration rightly plans to appeal the ruling.

There are many things Congress does year after year that are unconstitutional but that are never struck down by federal courts. That includes actions such as providing taxpayer subsidies to the Amtrak passenger rail service and forcing Americans to purchase government-approved health insurance through ObamaCare.

Isn't it odd that federal courts ignore so much gross unconstitutionality while singling out free religious expression for condemnation as "unconstitutional"?