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Government-Led Prayers
Christianity in American Education

And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?
Numbers 11:11-12

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
Isaiah 49:23

Your Majesty's loyal and religious people . . . observe, that the zeal of Your Majesty toward the house of God doth not slack or go backward, but is more and more kindled, manifesting itself abroad in the farthest parts of Christendom, by writing in defence of the Truth, (which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed,) and every day at home, by religious and learned discourse, by frequenting the house of God, by hearing the Word preached, by cherishing the Teachers thereof, by caring for the Church, as a most tender and loving nursing Father.
Dedication of the Bible, 1611

And unless they had done so, young societies could not have subsisted; without such nursing fathers tender and careful of the public weal, all governments would have sunk under the weakness and infirmities of their infancy, and the prince and the people had soon perished together.
John Locke
The Second Treatise of Government 
AN ESSAY Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT
Chapter 8: Of the Beginning of Political Societies, Section 110 (1689)

The Duty of Civil Rulers, to be nursing Fathers to the Church of Christ: A Sermon. . . .
Edward Dorr, Hartford: Thomas Green, 1765
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (123)

British Government as Nursing Fathers
In this proclamation, the British government was reproved for not supporting the church in Massachusetts: "those who should be Nursing Fathers become its Persecutors."

Fast Day Proclamation, April 15, 1775
Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Broadside
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (124)

During the debates in the 1780s about the propriety of providing financial support to the churches, those who favored state patronage of religion urged their legislators, in the words of petitioners from Amherst County, Virginia, in 1783, not "to think it beneath your Dignity to become Nursing Fathers of the Church." This idea was an old one, stretching back to the dawn of the Reformation. The term itself was drawn from Isaiah 49:23, in which the prophet commanded that "kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers." The responsibilities of the state were understood in an early work like Bishop John Jewel's Apologie of the Church of England (1562) to be comprehensive, including imposing the church's doctrine on society. The term "nursing father" was used in all American colonies with established churches. It appeared in the Cambridge Platform of 1648, the "creed" of New England Congregationalism; in numerous Anglican writings; and in the Presbyterian Westminster Confession. By the time of the American Revolution, the state was no longer expected to maintain religious uniformity in its jurisdiction, but it was expected to use its resources for the churches' benefit.
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic,
Library of Congress Exhibition
V. Religion and the State Governments


Maybe you've seen the article that should go here. Send us the link Or send us the book or journal article and we'll plagiarize it like all our other pages.

Here's what it says:

  • Secularists insist that the Founding Fathers intended to remove the power of the government to lead children in age-appropriate prayers while in government schools.
  • This would have been a radical departure from  previous practice in the Christian world.
  • There is no evidence that long-standing practice was overthrown by the Constitution

Until you send us this article, readers of this page will have to be content with the following dialogue on American OnLine's "Separation of Church and State" Discussion Board.

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Government-led prayer was a universal practice in America before the ratification of the Constitution. After the Constitution was ratified, government-led prayer was still a universal practice. This completely refutes any notion that the Constitution prohibits municipal school boards or teachers leading students in Christian prayer.

Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789

The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to these states, to set apart a day of thanksgiving, brought in a report; which was agreed to as follows:

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defence and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favour, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessing on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labour of the husbandman, that our land may yet yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth "in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." [Romans 14:7]
And it is further recommended, that servile labour, and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.*

[* This report, in the writing of Samuel Adams, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 24, folio 431.]

In spite of government acts like that above, some have argued that any prayer that did take place was non Christian prayer.

JnoReb@aol.com said:

>>>>But, clearly the state ought to endorse Christianity.<<<

ASSICON responded:

>As my professor use to say, nothing's clear!!

I quoted GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1789: [Acting upon a resolution of both Houses] to show ASSICON that he should not follow blind Secular Humanist professors into the ditch:

"Whereas 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...And beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions... to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue..." [etc.]
JD Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899, Vol 1, p.5)

In article <19990325003108.01096.00001238@ng-fx1.aol.com>, edarr1776@aol.com (EDarr1776) writes:

>1.  Kevin failed to mention that Washington edited the proclamation Congress
>sent him. 

It doesn't matter what EXACT WORDS Washington used. The entire proclamation was a CLEAR violation of the ACLU's doctrine of "separation of church and state." There is absolutely no evidence that Washington departed from the exact words of Congress' request because Washington believed in the ACLU's version of "separation of church and state."

> Washington edited out all references to Jesus and any reference
>which suggested that the deity mentioned was exclusively the God of Abraham.

There is absolutely no evidence that Washington was urging America to pray to the god of the Hindoos. None. "True religion" was the phrase used by Washington, just as Madison spoke of "false religions" and "nations which live in darkness." Everybody (except blithering atheists) knew what they meant. And they knew what everyone understood them to be saying.

>Washington did not like religious strife.

There is absolutely no evidence that Washington believed that general Christianity caused "strife." None. There is absolutely no evidence that Washington believed that Congress' request, if followed, would cause "strife." None. Washington believed that every nation should be Christian.

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention."
(Geo. Washington, The Writings of George Washington, JC Fitzpatrick, ed., Wash. DC: US Govt Printing Office, 1932, Vol 15, p.55, from speech on May 12, 1779, to the Chiefs of the sovereign nation of the Delaware Indians, who wanted Christianity taught to their youth.)

>2.  That the founders had intended to make the U.S. government "godless" is
>apparent from the criticisms levelled at the Constitution during the
>ratification process, and the ensuing 150 year effort to add a "Christian
>Amendment."  This history also points out that the history painted by some is
>in error.

Non sequitur. The intention of the Founders is not determined by those who sought to clarify or alter the finished product of the Founders. Name one Signer of the Constitution who stated a goal of making the U.S. government "godless." There is absolutely no evidence to support such a contention. As usual, Ed is giving us a combination of atheistic dreams and logical fallacies.

>Critics complained that the Constitution was completely "godless" because it
>did not mention Jesus or God at all.  Despite these criticisms, the
>Constitution was ratified, and the Bill of Rights was later attached -- all
>without mention of God.

SOME critics complained. Many others said these critics were too cynical.

We've gone over this before. The Framers were very careful not to tread on the sovereignty of the states, all of whom had specifically and explicitly Christian constitutions. They may have erred on the side of caution and hesitation, which is why the "Christian Amendment" people went to work. All the greatest legal authorities in the nation agreed that it was not the intention of the Framers to create a "godless" government. Joseph Story pointed out that if an explicitly rationalistic and atheistic constitution had been framed, it would not have been ratified. The federal government was not delegated any power to act in the area of religion, because that power rested with (and was not separated from) the states.

>Over the next century and a half or so, ending about 1945, good Christians
>tried to amend the Constitution to specifically name the God of Abraham the
>God of the U.S., or at least add Jesus' name somewhere.  The proposal would
>have amended the Preamble itself.
>I mention this for to make two points:  First, that Christians did in fact
>conduct such a drive indicates that not even devout Christians believed the
>U.S. Constitution established a "Christian Nation," not from the very first,
>not for more than a century did anyone have the brass to make such an
>argument, wholly unsupported by history.

There are more errors in this paragraph than words.
The U.S. was a Christian nation BEFORE the Constitution was written. The Constitution did not change that.
Devout Christians believed that the U.S. was a Christian nation BEFORE the Constitution was written, and they also believed that the Constitution did not change that. Other devout Christians disagreed, holding that the Constitution should have said something more specifically Christian.

If the Constitution had created a secular nation, as the ACLU maintains, it would have been wholly inappropriate ("unconstitutional") for a President to make the proclamation that Washington did, or for the Congress to request that he do so. Or for a Proclamation to be made such as President Adams made:

As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the growing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness of individuals and to the well-being of communities....I have thought proper to recommend, and I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the most high God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that "righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" [Proverbs 14:34].
John Adams, "National Fast Day,"

On another occasion, John Adams wrote: "The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the general principles of Christianity."
John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813, in Lester J. Cappon, ed., THE ADAMS-JEFFERSON LETTERS, 2 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1959), 2:339-40. Those who fought the War for Independence thought of themselves as Christians fighting for Christian rights and creating a Christian nation. I posted the evidence for this during our discussion of the policeman who wanted to wear a cross on his uniform.

>Second, our nation's founders and greatest heroes, from Washington to
>Eisenhower, all understood the desire expressed by some to Christianize the
>Constitution -- and they all rejected  the idea.

And why did they reject these proposed Amendments? Because these leaders were anti-Christian? Because they wanted Christianity kept out of the public square? Or was it because they thought the particular proposal for a federal amendment conflicted with states' rights? (Or, as is more likely the case, is it simply another undocumented false assertion by Ed that they did reject the idea? What is the evidence for such a claim?)

Why is a Christian Amendment necessary when Presidents can make explicitly Christian proclamations? Why is such an Amendment necessary when the United States Senate can ask Presidents to proclaim such Christian proclamations as this one in 1863:

Resolved, That devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, and sincerely believing that no people, however great in numbers and resources, or however strong in the justice of their cause, can prosper without His favor, and at the same time deploring the national offenses which have provoked his righteous judgment, yet encouraged in this day of trouble by the assurances of His Word, to seek Him for succor according to His appointed way, through Jesus Christ, the Senate of the United States do hereby request the President of the United States, by his proclamation, to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation, requesting all the people of the land to suspend their secular pursuits, and unite in keeping the day in solemn communion with the Lord of Hosts, supplicating Him to enlighten the councils and direct the policy of the rulers of the nation, and to support all our soldiers, sailors, and marines, and the whole people, in the firm discharge of duty, until the existing rebellion shall be overthrown and the blessings of peace restored to our bleeding country.

Now, Ed would have us believe that Lincoln was an atheist, and REFUSED to obey the resolution of the Senate.

>During the Civil War advocates of the amendment argued that the war itself
>evidenced God's dissatisfaction with the godlessness of the government and
>the document. 

[Ed wants us to believe that this fanciful notion was advanced only by a Christian fringe and was rejected by the majority of the nation, and especially by Lincoln. Ed doesn't have the facts, and those who follow Ed will be led into the ditch, as we will see.]

>They even secured an audience with Lincoln to plead for his
>help after getting the amendment introduced into both houses of Congress --
>Lincoln did nothing, and those proposals died, too.

But in fact, Lincoln obeyed the request of the Senate, and clearly established the God of Abraham as our national Faith. (No Amendment necessary.)


Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, vol. 5, p.3365

Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our [p.3366] presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power. to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863,
and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

Ed, the ACLU, and other Secular Humanists repeat their mythical falsehoods over and over until we believe them. The facts are contrary.

>Some of the founders endorsed Christianity for themselves.   But with the
>possible exception of Patrick Henry, none of them wanted a Christian
>government.  At every opportunity they turned down the idea of a   "Christian"
>This is history.  You could look it up.

As usual, Ed characterizes his atheistic dreams as "history."
He has given us nothing to "look up." Not a single footnote.
As usual, it's up to me to post FACTS.

America was a Christian nation.
America still is a Christian nation.
Secular Humanists like Ed have merely made America
an apostate Christian nation.

Maybe we need a Christian President like Lincoln who will have the courage to lead the people back to Faith in the God of Abraham.

Kevin C.

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and sit under their Vine & Fig Tree.
Micah 4:1-7

Subject: Re: Beyond the pale
To: Separation of Church & State
Date: 5/1/99

I wrote:

>>Lincoln said it is the duty "of nations" to acknowledge God and
>>seek Him. It is a corporate duty, a public duty, not just a private

In article <19990501134117.24949.00001792@ng-fi1.aol.com>, brandonre@aol.com (BrandonRe) writes:

>where does he say it is a "corporate duty"?   he says it is the duty of the
>nation...and what is the nation, but a group of individuals...

All I can say is you must really hate the idea of letting students begin their day with prayer if you must resort to such word games. Fine: Prayer is not a "corporate" duty, it is only a "group" duty, but the Supreme Court says children cannot begin their day as a group in prayer.

>> The schools are not neutral when they deny 29 out of 30 students
>>the right to corporately follow the sage advice of Lincoln.
>but that is the point...the schools do not deny this right to students...they
>don't even deny the right to do it corporately...just to do it during
>instructional time...

And by so doing they "instruct" children that prayer is not important. Children are taught that human activities can prosper without seeking God's guidance and blessing. Children are taught that the Founders of this nation believed it was important NOT to begin the day in corporate prayer, because the Supreme Court teaches that they removed prayer from schools because the Founders thought it was a bad idea for it to be there.

This is all part of the strategy of "the Big Lie."

In article <19990421213901.13200.00000245@ng-fb1.aol.com>, edarr1776@aol.com (EDarr1776) writes:

>Clif said:  >>Ever since the Supreme Court took prayer out of school, kids
>have been spiritually dead.<<<
>The Supreme Court did not remove prayers from schools.  Kids can pray any
>time they want to.  If they don't pray, that's not the fault of the schools,
>or of the Supreme Court -- you might find fault with their churches and
>parents, however.

I'm sure that Clif is aware that American students, like students in other Communist dictatorships, can pray alone and secretly, fearing government retribution only if they pray together and are caught.

What Clif meant is that the essential feature of CORPORATE prayer and PUBLIC recognition of God's Authority was removed by the Court.

But you knew that, didn't you, Ed.

So, when Peter had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.
Acts 12:12

Justice Scalia, Rehnquist, White, and Thomas recognized that private-only religious practice was inconsistent with American religious tradition.

Church and state would not be such a difficult subject if religion were, as the Court apparently thinks it to be, some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one's room. For most believers it is not that, and has never been. Religious men and women of almost all denominations have felt it necessary to acknowledge and beseech the blessing of God as a people, and not just as individuals, because they believe in the "protection of divine Providence," as the Declaration of Independence put it, not just of individuals but for societies; because they believe God to be, as Washington's first Thanksgiving Proclamation put it, the "Great Lord and Ruler of Nations." One can believe in the effectiveness of such public worship, or one can deprecate and deride it. but the long-standing American tradition of prayer at official ceremonies displays what unmistakable clarity that the Establishment Clause does not forbid the government to accommodate it
Lee v. Wiesman; 120 L.Ed. 2d 467, 518 (1992), Scalia, J., dissenting.

>>> Look at all the shootings at schools.<<<
>Almost all of
>the incidents we've seen on the news of mass assaults have involved good
>"Christian" kids in wealthy suburbs, or "Christian" kids who had a
>fascination with guns, in suburban or rural schools.  When the violence
>committed by Christian kids is seeing such a dramatic increase, while other
>violence falls, to suggest that prayer might be the one key is short sighted,
>wrong-headed, and foolish.

The "Trenchcoat Mafia" is a group of Christians.
Now I've heard everything.

>>>I can't believe they let a atheist woman go to the supreme court and get
>prayer banned from schools.<<
>I can't believe it either, and that didn't happen.  You wouldn't care to cite
>a case and tell us the facts, would you? 

Oh brother.
Remember Engle v. Vitale, 1962?

Neither the fact that the prayer may be denominationally neutral nor the fact that its observance on the part of the students is voluntary can serve to free it from the limitations of the [First Amendment]. . . . [It] ignores the essential nature of the program's constitutional defects. . . . Prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.
Engel v. Vitale; 370 U.S. 421, 430 (1962).

The real issue in that original prayer case was not the state-mandated coercion argument so often recited by today's revisionist reviewers; rather, it was--as the Court itself openly declared--simply the presence of "prayer in [the] public school system."

Additional proof of this is found in the manner in which the Engel case has been invoked in subsequent years. If the impact of this ruling had been only to stop state-approved, state mandated, supposedly, coercive prayers while still allowing voluntary prayers, then Engel would have been cited in no subsequent ruling, for there have been no further cases involving those circumstances. Yet even a cursory perusal of court rulings over recent decades reveals that this has not been the case; Engel has been cited in virtually every prayer case, regardless of its dissimilarity to the original case.

For example, the courts relied on Engel when striking down adult-led graduation invocations and benedictions in Lee v. Weisman and student-led prayer in Harris v. Joint School District [1] ; when striking down voluntary silent prayer in Wallace v. Jaffree [2] ; when striking down team athletic prayers in Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District [3] ; when striking down equal-access invocations before football games in Jager v. Douglas [4] ; and in numbers of other prayer cases. Very simply, the usage of the Engel case confirms that the original decision was an attack on any type of prayers in school.

Furthermore, not only have the courts regularly attacked voluntary prayer, but in their remaking of the First Amendment over recent decades, the Court has applied for different standards: the "establishment test" (1947); the "lemon test" (1971) under which a public religious activity must have a predominately secular purpose; the "endorsement test" (1985); and the "psychological coercion test: (1992). Each succeeding test was less tolerant of public religious expressions than the previous one. Observing the court's evolving standards and varying tests, one is reminded of Thomas Jefferson's warning:

The Constitution . . . is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please. [5]

The simple fact in practice is that the Supreme Court did rule against voluntary prayer.

>Or do you believe it should be okay
>for school officials to dictate religion to children?  The Court DID ban

No one was coerced. It was voluntary. The Court admitted this. Anyone could have been excused from participating in any way in the prayer.

Here's the test for Ed and other anti-prayer forces on this Board:

Suppose 29 out of 30 students in your public school class wanted to being the school day with corporate prayer, and they all agreed they wanted to say this prayer: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country. The Supreme Court said the Framers of the Constitution intended to prevent Christians from doing this. The entire class was to be held hostage by one atheist, according the the Founders.

What a lie.

The practice was every bit as constitutional as the flag salute, which members of some religions saw as idolatrous and offensive. The Court ruled (back in the 1940's) that the public schools had to permit them to excuse themselves from the patriotic prayer. The Court did NOT rule that all the other students who did NOT find the patriotic prayer objectionable had to cease and desist their corporate observance. The Secular Humanist Court in Engel was anti-Christian and hypocritical.

Further, the Court was CLEARLY out-of-step with the Framers of the Constitution, who never imagined that public prayer would be outlawed by the First Amendment.

[I]t 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.

[W]e ought to be led by religious feelings of gratitude; and to walk before Him in all humility, according to His most Holy Law . . .[and] humbly supplicate our Heavenly Father to grant us the aids of His grace . . . and vouchsafe His smiles upon our temporal concerns.

The goodness of the Supreme Being to all His rational creatures demands their acknowledgments of gratitude and love; His absolute government of the world dictates that it is the interest of every nation and people ardently to supplicate His favor and implore His protection.

To a people who believe the superintending Providence of the Divine Being over all human affairs, that even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His permission, it will not be unexpected that their civil rulers should call upon them . . . to seek the Divine protection and assistance.

It being our incumbent duty to acknowledge God in all our ways and to commit all our affairs, both public and private, to all His all wise direction and guidance.

[I]t is our indispensable duty to implore the blessing of Heaven upon all occasions.

It is not surprising, then, that recognizing the important societal effect arising form publicly acknowledging God remained a part of our political understanding throughout our early history. For example, in 1798, John Adams explained:

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend upon the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness cannot exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed . . . I have therefore thought fit to recommend . . . a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer that the citizens of these States . . . offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies. [12]

Then in 1799, Adams similarly explained:

[N]o truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities. [13]

  1. Harris v. Joint School District; 994 F. 2d 160 (5th Cir. 1993).
  2. Wallace v. Jaffree; 472 U.S. 38 (1985).
  3. Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District; 994 F. 2d 160 (5th Cir. 1993).
  4. Jager v. Douglas; 862 F. 2d 824 (11th Cir. 1989), cert denied, 490 U.S. 1090 (1989).
  5. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, editor (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol.XV, p. 213, to Judge Spencer Roane on September 6, 1819.
  6. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, October 3, 1789.
  7. Samuel Adams, A Proclamation for a Day of Public Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer (Printed at the State Press: Adams and Larkin, 1795).
  8. John Hancock, A Proclamation For a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer (Boston, 1782).
  9. Massachusetts Council, A Proclamation For a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer (Boston: 1780).
  10. Massachusetts Council, A Proclamation For a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer (Watertown, Massachusetts, 1776).
  11. John Wentworth, By the Governor, A Proclamation For a General Fast (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1775).
  12. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, Editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854), p.8.
  13. Id. At Vol. IX, p. 172, March 6, 1799.

Ed is a mischievous sophist, and we believe him and the U.S Supreme Court at our peril.

[T]o promote true religion is the best and most effectual way of making a virtuous and regular people. Love to God and love to man is the substance of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do. . . . The magistrate (or ruling party of any society) ought to encourage piety . . . [and] make it an object of public esteem.
Those who are vested with civil authority ought . . . to promote religion and good morals among all under their government.
John Witherspoon, Works (1815) IV:265,
from "Sermon Delivered at Public Thanksgiving After Peace."

New Hampshire Constitution, 1792, Art 1, sec. 6, "Bill of Rights":

As morality and piety rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest security to government and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through a society by the institution of the public worship of the Deity and of public instruction in morality and religion; therefore, to promote these important purposes, the people of this State have a right to empower, and do hereby fully empower, the legislature to authorize, from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this State to make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.

Every single constitution in the colonial period acknowledged that governments have an obligation to encourage the people to fulfill their duty to worship God. Nothing in the federal Constitution changed that mandate.

I do therefore issue this my proclamation, recommending to all who shall be piously disposed to unite their hearts and voices in addressing at one and the same time their vows and adorations to the Great Parent and Sovereign of the Universe . . . to render Him thanks for the many blessings he has bestowed on the people of the United States.
Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899) Vol 1 p 532 (July 13, 1813).

Apparently what Presidents can do, local school boards cannot.

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