Today is the National Day of Prayer. It is a day when Congress has mandated the President to issue a proclamation on the virtues of prayer. Prayer has been a positive and meaningful force for many people, but I don’t think we need our government to let us know that or tell us when to engage in it.
Living in one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world has its quirks. The Seal of the United States has on it our first national motto: E pluribus unum, Latin for Out of Many, One. Adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782, E pluribus unum was considered the de facto motto of the United States by most people until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H.J. Resolution 396), adopting In God We Trust as the official motto. This followed the creation of the National Day of Prayer in 1952, actions likely associated with separating the United States from the godless communists in the Soviet Union.
Looking back at the motto the founders gave us, I think Out of Many, One, meant out of many nationalities, one people: Citizens of the United States of American, not out of many religions one religion.
Matthew 6:6 (KJV), is a verse I have found inspirational: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. To me prayer is personal, a personal connection between the individual and their belief in a higher power. Even among Christians there is great diversity on how one prays, when, where and to whom (Jesus, God, the Saints) Our right to believe, to practice our beliefs as we see fit be they as a person of one faith or a person who does not follow any faith tradition is protected by the US Constitution and amendments. It is our First Freedom. But this freedom was never meant to divide one faith against another, to divide our country by those who follow or don’t a practice a religion. Those who wish to impose prayer, or to make un-American those who pray differently or not at all should be cautious for even within your own tradition; you may find beliefs you do not agree with.
As Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun said: When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

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