Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Wrong Wall
Melissa Rogers has this to say about the bi-partisan Congressional group that held a press conference yesterday at the Capitol to "call America back to prayer":
Frankly, members of Congress have no business issuing an "official call" for Americans to turn "back to prayer." Members of Congress certainly may pray, and they may play active roles within their respective religious communities. They also may form unofficial groups that meet for worship, prayer, and Bible study on government property just as other unofficial groups do. But their stations as government officials do not entitle them to attempt to lead us in spiritual pursuits.
I'd only add that they were doing more than leading a spiritual pursuit. They were advocating religious practice, even if they made a point to use ecumenical language. And not only are they not entitled, in their capacity as government officials, to do that. They are expressly forbidden by the constitution.
Randy Forbes, the Congressman who organized the event, claimed that it took place during their lunch hour, so no tax money was spent on religion. But the question isn't about money. It's about keeping political institutions free of religious affiliation. Mr. Forbes has every right to build a "spiritual prayer wall" around the country if he so desires. He just can't tear down the wall of separation between church and state to do so.