Ok, now youve confused me. Are you saying that Congress has not opened sessions with prayer or had chaplains since 1791?No, what I am saying is that members of Congress and the states were very clear on the law. Congress continued to "skirt" this law and does so even today. They knew they were in violation of Amendment I back in 1855 when they discontinued electing a chaplain. Their justification is that they are allowing expression of religion while not endorsing any particular religion, thus satisfying the Establishment clause they created. Before 1791, prayer was completed under the guise of the Protestent Episcopal Church. That irritated such members as John and Samual Adams, who were Congregationalists at the time.
re: “No, what I am saying is that members of Congress and the states were very clear on the law. Congress continued to “skirt” this law and does so even today.”
So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that the very people who debated and voted on the 1st Amendment, violated it and continue to violate it to this day?
You believe having a non-sectarian prayer said in Congress is an “establishment” of religion. I guess you must also believe that Washington (by proxy), Lincoln, and countless other Presidents who mentioned God in their speeches all violated the “establishment” clause of the 1st Amendment?
Just so you know, I have served as a chaplain in hospitals before, so I do know what a chaplain is. George Washington called for Chaplain’s to serve in the Continental Army, so I guess (also by proxy), according to you, he violated the future 1st Amendment in this regard, too.
The Declaration of Independence states that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights”. Jefferson, though no Christian, was certainly invoking a Theistic God from whom our rights as individuals are derived - not from a Government or a piece of paper - but, from God Himself. Sounds like you would say this is an “establishment” of religion and thus another violation.
You see, what you fail to understand is that our Nation was founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview. That didn’t mean everyone was a practicing Christian, but most held a belief in God and respect for the ethical teachings in the Bible. None of the expressions of faith in God was too much of a problem to anyone until the last 30 - 50 years because everyone understood that such expressions did not “establish” a national church, which was the intent of the 1st Amendment. Such expressions do imply general belief in God, but not any particular individual church.
The problem is now that America has become a morally and a religiously pluralistic society and the Judeo-Christian worldview no longer has as strong a hold on our people any more.
The danger is, as I see it, at some point, if America continues to sponge away the religious underpinnings of it’s laws, customs, and moral foundation - our Constitution will rest in mid-air with no foundation at all upon which to base our beliefs in liberty or justice.
After all, who says liberty is good? Who says the value of the individual is the best? Why are personal property rights important? Maybe we are just made to serve the state. Why not? What foundation is there for us to say that that isn’t the case? Does Islam, or Wicca, or Atheism build a firm foundation upon which to ground our rights upon?
By the way, it was the 35th Congress (1857-1859) that discontinued the custom of electing a Senate chaplain, and extended an invitation to the clergy of the District of Columbia to alternate in opening the daily sessions with prayer. The 36th Congress returned to the former practice.
I hear what you are saying about political correctness forcing Congress to include Iman’s or Pagan Witches to lead “prayers”, but that’s only because our politicians are too weak to stand up and say no to this. Our Nation’s laws and ideals were not founded on Islam, Sharia law, or Aboriginal beliefs - having prayers led in our Congress by Christian or Jewish ministers is in accord with our customs and traditions. One may not like that that is the way it is (or at least was) - but it is true nonetheless.
Now, the move is to eradicate all religious expression from the political realm. That is not what our Founders intended.