In the Declaration of Independence our Founding Fathers stated the following: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.”
With this proclamation, a group of humble men risked everything to begin a long and hard fight against an oppressive tyrannical government. Through great tribulation they sought to establish a country that would always fight to uphold mankind’s sacred rights and freedoms; freedoms that logically included a separation of church and state. After experiencing the religious persecution that had taken place in Europe, the early framers sought to prevent the possibility of church exerting its power to enforce a specific religion over another. Yet, curiously, at the same time the founding documents invoked a creator! (Before I continue, let me also offer a reminder that in keeping with this tradition, our monetary system’s currency has been inscribed with the words, “In God we trust.” In addition, most of our government buildings and monuments erected during our long history have been inscribed with scripture.) So is all this God talk a contradiction? Is this in keeping with our founding father’s desire for separation of church and state?
Could it be that the reason our Founding Fathers included the mention of a creator in the introduction of a founding document of the most free country in the world, was because they knew it was important to establish that our rights are not given by men. If men gave them, then men could take them away. They knew that establishing a higher moral authority as supreme, requires all of us to submit and answer to that source of Justice both now and for eternity. That is what holds good men and women accountable to treating each other with the rights that they deserve; rights that are promised, defended and protected by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Yet those documents don’t give the rights. They only proclaim and uphold them.
The reason I reference the Founding Fathers is because they came upon the same question at the 1st Continental Congress as we have right now in our current debate on this issue of public prayer. This experiment of Democracy had brought together men of various faiths. Most were Christian, and almost all had a belief in God. However, the denominational differences were significant enough to thwart the first vote on including an opening prayer to meetings, because they could not agree which denominational pastor would do the praying. It was Samuel Adams and Ben Franklin (believers in God) who championed the cause for opening the 1st Continental Congress with an invocation. They all believed that this was foundational to the successful future of a free society…not to endorse or enforce religion; rather, to call all to a higher authority.
This is why our Supreme Court recently defended opening prayers at government meetings. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/05/supreme-court-government-prayer-new-york/4481969/)
This is an undeniable tradition that is intrinsically woven into the fabric of this free society.
In Addition, we regulary submit ourselves to a respect and love of country when, in unity and harmony, we pledge allegiance to the flag. Yet the pledge of allegiance also contains the phrase, “One nation, under God, indivisible…”. Again, this concept of God’s objective morality being our higher authority under which we all govern ourselves, is a key element to establishing and maintaining fairness and justice for all. For what God gives, only God can take away.
Therefore, I contend that the reason this country has a tradition of prayer and pledge of allegiance before meetings is to draw members together in unity under the umbrella of a Higher Moral Authority who calls us all to respect and uphold the sacred rights of one another.
As we call on God and invoke His name, we together declare the Supreme Moral Authority on which our founding documents are based. From a tradition established by our founding fathers we recognize that the success of any endeavor will be based on the pure motives that come from submission to that Higher authority and His eternal justice. I contend that this principle is what has made America the greatest nation ever advanced by mankind. I personally believe that this foundational desire for fairness and justice that can only come from an impartial, loving God seems to bless the efforts of any and all organizations or countries that publically recognize and declare its benefits.
To completely abandon our traditions of prayer and the pledge of allegiance is in my opinion to forget who we are and where we came from.
After a lifetime of experience, of seeing the rewards and benefits of Godly living, I personally don’t believe we should pray less…I believe we should pray more. I submit that by removing the foundation upon which our great nation was established, we become in many ways a drifting ship without a rudder.