Jesus, Prayer, and Separation of Church and State
by Robert Driskell
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Separation of Church and State
Nowhere in our laws does it say anything about ‘separation of church and state’. This is a phrase used by those who wish to create a godless society. They use it as a match in order to light the fuse of animosity toward those who believe in God.
Our constitution says that the government cannot set up a religion and force people to adhere to it, nor can the government interfere with our expression of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The language of the clause places the government in a neutral position concerning religion.
It is truly dishonest to take only part of this clause and build a case against freedom of religious expression. Praying in public is not illegal and does not violate any real law. The establishment clause does not prohibit public prayer, even in public schools. This is a subjective opinion of anti-God people and anti-God judges. It is not constitutional law.
Some skeptics/atheists say that it is unconstitutional to have organized prayer at public functions that are not religious functions sponsored by a religious organization. They claim that it is illegal to have a public prayer at any function involving the government. They say that Christians are not only breaking the law of our nation with their public prayers, but also ignoring Jesus’ instructions.
Many non-believers claim that Jesus, in Matthew 6:5-6, instructed His followers to never pray in public; they should always pray in a closet with the door closed. However, this is not what He was teaching. Jesus was not prescribing the one and only place and method he allowed for prayer. Matthew 6:1-24 is a corrective aimed at those who do things merely to be seen and praised by men. This is what Jesus was addressing when he said the words in verses 5 and 6 concerning how to pray. He was condemning the hypocrite’s self-serving motives, not public prayer.
When the motive is right, public prayer is not only allowed, but encouraged. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says that we should, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is the attitude the Christian should have every minute of every day…both privately and publicly.
Public prayer is not a case of Christians spurning the law of the land or any such nonsense. It is simply people who love God taking every opportunity to praise and worship the God who created them.
Many skeptics/atheists try to use the law to stifle the voice of anyone with an opinion contrary to their own. Man goes to great lengths to make himself feel good about living in rebellion to God. He believes that, if he can get the law on his side, convince others to join his cause, even convince some to renounce their beliefs, he will be able to quiet the conscience that continues to tell him that God is real. The conscience that continues to tell him he is in rebellion to God, he has no excuse, and he needs a savior. A savior that came in the form of Jesus Christ and died on the cross for him, and all of mankind.
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Like you, I grieve for the demise of public prayer. Your arguements are sound insofar as dissenters will appeal to any 'out' in order to outlaw public prayer. In relation to the scripture about 'going into the closet to pray,' Christ was, as you point out, referring to the hypocracy of the Pharisees in this particular instance and obviously did not intend this as a standing rule or order. Don't you wish that readers of the Bible would learn to contextualise before raising objections? An enjoyable read. Thank you for posting. Juliette
Sorry, I meant to also comment on the separation of Church and State. It sometimes appears to me that we lack pride in our Christian heritage. When flying into Pakistan my huisband was amazed to hear over the intercom, the pilot announce, "We are now entering the Muslim State of Pakistan." Could we learn any lessons here???