In a pre-emptive strike against the National Day of Prayer, first established by President Truman in 1952 and re-affirmed by President Reagan in 1988, an atheist-agnostic group in Wisconsin took the issue to court and received a favorable opinion from the judge. Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in her opinion that government must operate in regards to prayer under the bizarre constraint of serving "a significant secular purpose and is 'not a call for religious action on the part of its citizens.'" (quoted from Worldnet Daily article, "National Day of Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional," April 15, 2010) This becomes an impossible standard for how could prayer ever be for a significant secular purpose and not call for religious action on the part of citizens?
Here is another example of what Alexander Solzenitsyn described as "legalism" in his landmark speech at Harvard in the 1970's. His criticism of American society was that we use the legal system for political purposes rather than the maintenance of justice and morality. He spoke of the perversity of using the courts to justify activities that undermine the moral and social fabric of society such as traditional marriage and the family. In this instance, we see the courts used to strike another blow at the Judeo-Christian faith which forms the moral and spiritual foundation of American culture.
As I argue in my book, this use of the courts to prevent any public expression of the predominant Christian beliefs held by most Americans, implies that the government views Christian faith as a dangerous and destructive activity. Why else would it be considered illegal? It really is the courts, and thus the government of the United States, siding with the secularist view of Christianity as a great evil whose actions should be outlawed and its influence reduced or eliminated. By making public prayer, posting of the Ten Commandments, and Bible reading against the law the government can no longer claim to be neutral in regard to religious belief. It has taken a firm stand in opposition to any and all public expressions of the Christian faith.
We are only continuing to fool ourselves if we think this elimination of a national day of prayer is no big deal. It is another nail in the coffin of the influence of Judeo-Christian values on American society. We are sawing off the limbs of personal morality, unselfish concern for our fellow man, the Protestant/American work ethic, and the value of delayed gratification as we sit on them. We also rob our younger generations of faith and hope, because the two are related. We must recognize that God and goodness are entirely related. Nietzsche was the first of the modern philosophers to understand this fundamental truth. In denying God we face the unintended consequence of denying the good. I believe the descent into the relativistic darkness that characterizes so much of Western popular culture is merely the result of our embrace of a radical secularism that allows no place for God.
How ironic. Just when we need prayer the most we find it's not allowed.