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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Tony Phyrillas
Bio: Tony Phyrillas
Date:  March 18, 2006
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Prayer plays a crucial role in American life and politics

The question facing the United States in the 21st century is whether the nation wants to abandon its tradition of Judeo-Christian values in place of a secular society where the government is the center of everyone's life.

The conflict over separation of church and state has raged for decades in the United States, fueled primarily by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has demonstrated an anti-Christian bias since its founding by atheists and communists.

More recently, activist judges have taken on the cause, arguing that they know better than the Founding Fathers what the Constitution means. These unelected, unaccountable judges believe they have a right to impose their will on the majority.

I received a lengthy letter from a reader disputing my argument in an earlier column that the reason the United States has prospered for so long is because most of its citizens are people of faith. The reader argues that the United States is a secular nation and has succeeded only because religion has been held in check by the government for more than 200 years.

The letter-writer quotes Thomas Jefferson extensively to bolster his argument that the Founding Fathers opposed religious influence on government. The secular left loves to quote Jefferson when it wants to promote the so-called "wall of separation" between church and state.

The problem with their argument is that Jefferson had nothing to do with drafting the Constitution. Jefferson was in France when the document was written and ratified by the states. It doesn't matter what Jefferson had to say. And the secular left can't explain away the fact that the words "wall of separation" appear nowhere in the Constitution. There's no language in the Constitution that would lead anyone to conclude the United States was established as a secular nation.

Even the Declaration of Independence, which was written by Jefferson, makes references to God. The first paragraph refers to "the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God." The second paragraph refers to unalienable rights "endowed by their Creator." The Declaration ends with a reference to "the protection of Divine Providence."

The Founding Fathers were deeply religious men. They couldn't comprehend a nation where God played no role in the affairs of men, including helping guide the country's elected leadership. The concept of "secularism" was foreign to the Founding Fathers. These were men who believed the United States gained its independence in large measure because of the divine will of God. George Washington, who breathed life into the Constitution as the nation's first president, often mentioned God in carrying out his public duties.

Even the First Amendment, which the secular left often relies as its justification for suppression of religious displays and customs, clearly states that faith has a role to play in public life. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." That's the entire reference to religion in the Constitution.

Clearly Congress cannot establish a national religion. That doesn't mean religion cannot play a central role in how the nation is governed. The First Amendment gives us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The second half of the sentence — "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" — means government has no authority to suppress the expression of religion as long as other laws are not being broken. Why do liberals insist on questioning the motives of the Founding Fathers?

This nation can trace its Christian heritage to 1620 when the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. We're a nation that proclaims "In God We Trust" on our currency. A nation whose leaders take an oath to uphold the Constitution by placing their hand on the Bible and uttering the words, "So help me God." It's only been in the last 60 years that liberal judges have gone astray from the intention of the Founding Fathers to place arbitrary restrictions on the "free exercise" of religion in the United States.

Men of faith who shared Judeo-Christian principles — a common morality that has guided this nation for more than 230 years — founded the United States and wrote the laws that have helped this country prosper into its third century. If you need a refresher on how faith and prayer formed the United States as we know it today, I recommend, "One Nation Under God: The History of Prayer in America" by James P. Moore Jr.

"I find it sadly odd that so many extensive biographies have been written about famous Americans in which the author barely, if at all, has touched upon the spiritual life of the subject," Moore writes in the book. "Far from being merely sentimental, prayer is an integral vibrant influence, particularly for Americans and within the context of the American experience."

The question facing the United States in the 21st century is whether the nation wants to abandon its tradition of Judeo-Christian values in place of a secular society where the government is the center of everyone's life.

"To dismiss prayer in the life of America is to embark on a fool's errand," Moore writes. "Prayer has been and always will be an integral part of the national character. It is clearly a subject that must be explored in far greater depth if anyone is to understand the people who have made the United States what it is today and what it will be tomorrow."

Tony Phyrillas
http://tonyphyrillas.blogspot.com (Columnist)

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Biography - Tony Phyrillas

Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas


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