Federal judge's contorting of Constitution results in flawed ruling on prayer

The National Day of Prayer simply acknowledges the role of prayer in many people's lives.

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The U.S. Constitution makes it very clear the government cannot establish a national religion nor put a specific religion above any other religion.

That interpretation of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof") has been widely accept by judges as well as members of Congress.

Yet, a federal judge in Wisconsin last week twisted the First Amendment as to be almost unrecognizable when she ruled the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled 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.

She's wrong.

The law in question that established the National Day of Prayer in 1952 does not favor any one religion over another. Nor does the update in 1988, which sets the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. These congressional actions do not mandate anybody take part in prayer or a religious service.

This day simply acknowledges the role of prayer in many people's lives. It does not promote a specific religion. The praying taking place - all voluntarily - might be by those who are Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist or Christian.

Acknowledging a higher power - as all religions do - has gone on in this country since before it was a country. Our money says "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance references one nation under God.

This is the view taken by President Barack Obama, and it follows the same line of thinking as the previous presidents - Republicans and Democrats.

Thirty-one members of Congress have joined the federal government as defendants in this lawsuit. They, through their attorney Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, plan to appeal what they see as a flawed ruling.

"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," Sekulow said.

The National Day of Prayer does not establish a religion or prohibit the exercise of religion. It simply, and correctly, encourages Americans to follow their personal religion beliefs, which is clearly constitutional.

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