Prayer Day Politics: U.S. House Members Rush To Criticize Court Ruling

Supporters of the resolution claim Americans need the National Day of Prayer, and that they must prevail in this fight or else the country is doomed.

With all the hoopla last week over the federal court decision striking down the National Day of Prayer, Americans United knew the Religious Right would be putting pressure on their allies in Congress to take action.

As predicted, U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, has introduced two resolutions in the House in defense of the government-sponsored religious event. One measure calls Attorney General Eric Holder to appeal the district court decision, and the other affirms the day as constitutional and part of America’s historical traditions.

Forbes, along with the other members of the National Prayer Caucus, announced the first of the resolutions – a demand to appeal the decision -- yesterday at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

“This decision is not representative of a vast majority of Americans regardless of their faith or even their non-faith,” said Forbes.

Forbes was joined by a handful of other House members to cosponsor the bills, including U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who claims the district court’s decision is “patently absurd,” and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) who criticized Judge Barbara Crabb for being “ignorant of history.”

But mostly, supporters of the resolution claim Americans need the National Day of Prayer, and that they must prevail in this fight or else the country is doomed.

“Make no mistake about it, there is a struggle going on in our country over whose sets of values, whose sets of principles are going to prevail: the secular left versus those of us who believe in the Judeo-Christian tradition and heritage and truths that are part of that,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

“My concern,” he continued, “is if we don’t prevail on the values debate, we may not have the toughness, the tenacity, what it takes to prevail on the other big challenges: the economic and financial concerns we face, the terrorist threat we fact. It is really that important. It’s really that fundamental.”

I see.

So if we skip the National Day of Prayer, we no longer will be able to fight terrorists or face our financial concerns? I had no idea.

I thought that if the government wasted time defending unconstitutional measures just to prove a point or curry favor with voters, that may be what prevents us from taking on these real challenges that matter. As many supporters of this resolution have pointed out, we are fighting two wars and facing hard economic times. Why, then, is the National Day of Prayer at the top of their list?

Besides, Americans have the right to pray (or not) anywhere, anytime.  That’s never going to change, even without a “national day of prayer.” There’s no need for Congress to intervene.

As AU’s Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said, “The United States Congress has no business, no authority, and frankly not a great deal of talent, in telling people how to be better Americans.”

Update: As I was posting this blog, the Obama Adminstration announced it will  file an appeal of the National Day of Prayer decision to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.