State Rep. Cynthia Davis and Rep. Todd Akin are, predictably, wringing their hands about the ruling by a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin that found the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. How can they possibly worship their God if they can’t let non-Christians know who’s boss? Sister Cynthia, never one to let the grass grow under her feet, is taking action:
… I am preparing a Missouri Resolution that will join our state with the national effort to stand strong against those who seek to strip us of our traditions, our heritage and our acknowledgement of God Almighty, Creator and sustainer of the universe, author of all civility and source of mercy, grace and charity.
Akin is, of course, equally concerned about this victimization of innocent Christians:
This decision flies in the face of reason as well as our nation’s traditions and is yet another attempt by an activist court to subvert our national spiritual heritage
Both bible thumpers cite historical justification for the National Day of Prayer – and it does have historical antecedents, although the record is not as clear as they claim. For instance those in attendance at the Constitutional Congress of 1776 not only rejected repeated requests by Benjamin Franklin for prayer, but:
…there is no record of a resolution providing for prayer. Franklin himself wrote afterwards that “the Convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary.
James Madison also proclaimed a day of prayer, but later repudiated such events because “they seem to imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion.” Or take Thomas Jefferson, who explicitly opposed such public prayer events, believing that faith was the province of the individual, not the state:
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises, it’s discipline, or it’s doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.
So no, Todd and Cynthia, the founding fathers, were they Christian, deist, or whatever, don’t really seem to have supported your brand of Christian triumphalism, but rather preferred to establish a democratic republic where individuals are free to take responsibility for their own worship in the confines of their homes and churches. Perhaps the Bible says it best in Mark, Chapter 6, verse 5:
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.