So here I go...passion number one. Wish me luck. I may need it. Not because I am worried that I might receive a backlashing of boos and hisses accompanied by a wet noodle, but because I am nervous that mere words will not adequately express just how much this subject means to me.
First let me explain that this topic is not a dual one. It is not meant to be thought of separately; first, of my devotion to and love for my Almighty Creator and second of my love and patriotism for the country in which I live. No, this is the "One Nation Under God", "In God We Trust", "God Bless America" topic. The one where there is a firm belief that this country was founded under the direction of Deity. The topic where they go Hand in hand.
After being elected President, George Washington stated "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." (Fitzpatrick, Writings of George Washington, 30:292.)
James Madison contemplated the work of the Constitutional Convention as follows, "The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted...with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution." (The Federalist Papers, No. 37, pp 230-231.)
The Founding Fathers often fasted and prayed, petitioning God both publicly and privately. They were continually expressing gratitude to the Almighty as the nation survived one major crisis after another.
It was also the intent of our country's First Fathers to teach religion and not only allow but welcome God in our schools. *Gasp!* you say. But what about separation of church and state! Yeah, well I will address that here later.
In 1787, Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance which said:
"Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. (Basic American Documents, Littlefield, Adams & Co., Ames, Iowa, 1953, p, 66.)
In 1962 and 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court issues two bans. Both bans were the result of lawsuits against the teaching of religion and religious practices in public schools. Basically stating that organized prayer in schools was a violation of the separation of church and state. It was decided that publicly funded schools were an extension of the state, and that organized prayer or bible readings were a form of proselytizing. The bans not only banned mandatory prayer in schools but also banned the daily reading of bible passages.
The lawsuits were supported by several organizations but the most outspoken supporter for banning prayer in schools came from Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists, Inc.