Last week, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled that the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. And now we have President Barack Obama and Rep. Michele Bachmann -- gasp -- joining sides.
Prayer's all fine and well, she said, "But that does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge, or practice rune magic. In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-God, was not pleased.
"It was never the intent of the Founding Fathers for faith, religion, and God to be stricken from public life as liberals are working so hard to do today," Bachmann said. "This court decision could not be more misguided and has simply no constitutional backing, as our founding document secured for all of us the right to pray. The American people would want it no other way."
Sez Bachmann, anyway. But of course, freedom of religion has never been that simple. Here's the judge again:
The role that prayer should play in public life has been a matter of intense debate in this country since its founding. When the Continental Congress met for its inaugural session in September 1774, delegate Thomas Cushing proposed to open the session with a prayer. Delegates John Jay and John Rutledge (two future Chief Justices of the Supreme Court) objected to the proposal on the ground that the Congress was "so divided in religious Sentiments . . . that We could not join in the same Act of Worship." Eventually, Samuel Adams convinced the other delegates to allow the reading of a psalm the following day. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams (Sept. 16, 1774), available at Case: 3:08-cv-00588-bbc Document #: 132 Filed: 04/15/2010 Page 2 of 66 http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams. The debate continued during the Constitutional Convention (which did not include prayer) and the terms of Presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, each of whom held different views about public prayer under the establishment clause. It continues today. In recent decades, the Supreme Court has decided a number cases regarding the constitutionality of public prayer in various contexts, often generating controversy regardless of the outcome.
But darn it, here come those godless libruls, appealing the judge's ruling today:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that defendants President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert L. Gibbs hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from this Court's Judgment of April 20, 2010 (Docket No. 133, 04/20/2010), as well as all other opinions, orders, and rulings that merge into that judgment, including, but not limited to, this Court's Opinion and Order dated April 15, 2010 (Docket No. 132, 04/15/2010) and this Court's Opinion and Order dated March 1, 2010 (Docket No. 131, 03/02/2010).
Here's the document: