Indeed, to separate our national commitment to prayer from the history of America, you have to cut away the crux of the American character. This nation was founded, settled, and populated by people seeking, first and foremost, the freedom to pray and worship; a government proclamation doesn’t compel anyone to continue that tradition…it merely recognizes a love for God and religious freedom that still pulses in the hearts of most Americans.
But not, apparently, in the hearts of the FFRF, who claim this once-a-year proclamation and the events that attend it create a “hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders.”
For the record, here’s how to know you’re a “political outsider”: the government issues a law telling you that only people publicly citing a certain religious creed will be allowed to receive public funds or attend public schools or run for office or enter the voting booths. When they tell you to “pray,” they point guns at you to make sure you at least genuflect fast enough.
But when the government simply acknowledges that a religious observance is taking place, and makes it a point to tell everyone in the country they’re invited to join in – and you choose, for reasons of your own, not to participate – and no one shows up at your door to arrest you, or to see that you’re fired, or to summon you to an IRS audit – that’s called “freedom.”
And in this country, so far, being free makes you very much a political insider with all the rights thereunto appertaining.
H.L. Mencken once famously derided Puritans as people possessed by “the morbid fear that somebody, somewhere, might be happy.” But Mr. Mencken’s quip is more fitting for America’s aggressive atheists, who squirm at the awful thought that some beleaguered soul might draw cheerful consolation from faith in a merciful God.
Of course, the FFRF folks present themselves as the true defenders of a legally secular nation and of the teeming millions being cruelly manipulated by a politically-ambitious Christian church.
And yet…the unique history of this extraordinary country across two-and-a-half tumultuous centuries would suggest not only that this has been, and remains, a nation of pray-ers…but that the Almighty has been unusually receptive to our intercessions.
And now – faced with economic catastrophe, cultural freefall, and the voracious enmity of a worldwide league of terrorists whose agenda includes the implementation of the kind of theocracy the FFRF and its allies seem to dread – one finds it hard to believe the atheists and their lawsuit, whatever its motives, are standing on the side of the American people – or their angels.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.