The desire by the faithful, especially Christians, to see their faith expressed in the public square has been a part of America's "civil religion" since the founding of the country. The idea that America is especially chosen by God for some purpose greater than those of any other nation is a type of idolatry that violates the very Scripture in which Christians claim to believe. Isaiah puts it succinctly as to how God views nations: "Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing (Isaiah 40:17)." One must conclude from this passage that "all" includes the United States.
During the recent partial government shutdown, Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black received national attention when he used his opening prayer to chastise lawmakers, saying, "Enough is enough." Black asked God to "Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness." It was fine oratory, but the political devils triumphed, and the shutdown continued until the president and congressional Democrats used their secular powers to prevail.
That is the point, isn't it? What do these public prayers accomplish? How does tossing in minority faiths advance a kingdom Christians believe their Leader taught is "not of this world"?
If individual members of the Greece, N.Y. town board, or any other legislative body, wish to pray silently to their God before their meetings, no law or court decision prohibits them from doing so. Why would God be more impressed and more likely to respond to a public prayer than to a private one? Indeed, Jesus commanded His followers: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6).
That seems more definitive than any ruling by the Supreme Court.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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