Does the National Day of Prayer Conflict with Separation of Church and State?

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Did you know the National Day of Prayer was enacted on April 17, 1952 by President Harry S. Truman as a time to “turn to God in prayer and meditation?” This bill was challenged in 2010 by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. She expressed it violated the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Crabb’s decision by arguing the National Day of Prayer does not establish a religion or obligate citizens to participate.

In my opinion, the National Day of Prayer is not establishing a religion. No one is coerced to attend. In fact, the Bible teaches genuine faith cannot be forced. Jesus made it abundantly clear to “give to Caesar—the government, the things that belong to the government, and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:20-21).” This implies the church should not force it’s worldview upon government.

However, this does not mean government should exclude religion either. Remember, congress shall not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” The Bible says government officials are sent to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14). How can government officials effectively serve God if they are not allowed to use moral terms within the justice system?

Currently, the United States is facing a myriad of issues, ranging from family breakdowns to drug epidemics to the abiding racial divide. Christians need to let others know there is a God who cares. There is a God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John. 3:16).” When people realize there is a heavenly Father who cares about the pain and struggles of this world, then these issues will be easier to overcome. Do you believe that?

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