Public prayer is not unconstitutional
I would like to thank The Register-Herald for their online edition. Since I no longer reside in West Virginia, this allows me to read the Beckley paper daily.
I agree with the writer who says that it is not unconstitutional to pray in public; however, he needs to obtain better information to “prove” his contention.
Thomas Jefferson was president of the Untied States of America from 1801 till 1809. The letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in the state of Connecticut was dated January 1, 1802. Jefferson was president, when he wrote this letter:
“... Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘Make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state ...”
We must note that Jefferson says that the First Amendment builds a wall of separation between church and state.
On June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin made a major speech in which he pleaded unsuccessfully for the convention to return to the prayerful piety that had helped to inspire the American Revolution. The Anti-Federalists warned that the proposed constitution would excessively diminish support for the crucial role of religious piety, and point to the proposed constitution’s silence on God’s supreme authority.
The Federalists got most of what they wanted in the Constitution, making it a secular document. They didn’t want a bill of rights; however, the Anti-Federalists got their bill of rights after the Constitution was ratified. The newly formed Congress created the Bill of Rights (1791, Amendments 1-10 in our Constitution), which endows us the right to pray in public; however, it doesn’t give us the right to coerce other folk to participate in our prayers.
Rev. Dr. Jennings
formerly of Hinton