Friday, April 16, 2010

The most effective way to render a judge's decision meaningless

The National Day of Prayer has been ruled "unconstitutional" by a Jimmy Carter-appointed federal judge. This is a meaningless decision and should be treated as such.

The particular statute ruled "unconstitutional" is a 1988 federal law which gives the President of the United States the authority to designate the first Thursday in May as a national day of prayer. In actuality, proclamations calling for a national day of prayer predate the founding of the United States. The first such proclamation was issued by the Continental Congress in 1775. George Washington began the tradition of presidential proclamations which all of his successors have continued. A Joint Resolution of Congress, signed by President Harry Truman in 1952, made the National Day of Prayer "official" and the 1988 statute now in question simply amended the law so as to make the official annual observance on the first Thursday in May. One judge's opinion is not going to change the facts of history or the tradition that has grown up around the National Day of Prayer. Public observances will continue this year and for years to come, with or without a federal statute giving them official government recognition.

Last year, President Obama, in a break with tradition, cancelled the National Day of Prayer service at the White House. The current chief executive is clearly not a fan of celebrating the nation's religious heritage, so don't hold your breath expecting a vigorous effort on his part to have the ruling overturned. Certainly, a number of religious liberty organizations will continue to fight the good fight all the way, if necessary, to the Supreme Court and such efforts should be supported by Christians and other persons of goodwill. But the most effective response to one judge's historically ignorant and uninformed decision is simply to ignore it and continue not only observing the National Day of Prayer, but also praying every day for our nation and its leaders, whether those leaders appreciate our prayers or not. In fact, the best response to a president who does not appreciate the importance of prayer is to pray for the president.