Sunday, May 2, 2010

Freedom of Religion, or Freedom from Religion?

TO MOST, HIS picture is unrecognizable, but to the political science major, it is none other than John Locke. Locke is to blame for the oft misquoted phrase "separation of church and state." Locke, a man who described himself as an Anglican until he died, envisioned a government that was free from influence from the direct influence of the Church, but I wonder what even he would say about the path our nation is headed now.
A recent decision in a Federal Court in Wisconsin has ruled National Prayer Day to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. According to the Lemon Test, Federal endorsement of such a day is considered constitutional if (i) it has a secular purpose, (ii) its primary purpose is one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and (iii) doesn't foster an excessive government entanglement with religion. It is hard to imagine how a national day for prayer can survive the Lemon Test, but this should not stop us from prayer ourselves. We, as Christians, do not need to be reminded by Congress to ask God for protection of this country. What this country needs is for us to pray everyday for the peace in this country. This is especially evident after yesterday's bomb scare in Times Square.

Here are links for more information on John Locke and National Day of Prayer. Take solace knowing that the overruling of National Prayer day will take years of appeals and resistance from the Congressional Prayer Caucus before it will take effect. Also, ask yourself if the framers and the political thinkers such as John Locke really intend where our nation is headed? Lastly, do the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment really guarantee freedom from religion, or is that a new ideology?

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