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The right to pray and the Constitution

Updated on January 5, 2012

Praying is an action that many of us feel comfortable with while those who may be around us are uncomfortable. The attack on religious principles seems to be never ending and even our courts have become part of the action in some decisions that have been made. I am proud of our court system and the decisions that must be made at many levels some of which are overturned at higher courts. Many of us who have religious beliefs and exercise those beliefs in many forms are becoming frustrated with not only the decisions being rendered but those who bring such lawsuits.

Our country was found on religious principles and for many it was the main reason to make the long trips across the ocean to arrive at a new land. Religious tolerance is one aspect for which many were searching and this principle found its way in the Constitution in the 1st Amendment. Tolerance in terms of religion is a concept which seems to have gotten lost over time but especially in recent years. Recent examples of court cases where individuals claim they were or are offended by the religious acts of others are examples of intolerance to the beliefs of others. The present controversy over the act of prayer which many of us feel we have the right to exercise. This situation is one which will not go away in the foreseeable future based on court decisions already made and probably will be made.

The Supreme Court and their decisions in cases presented to them are part of the present controversy and in effect have restricted the expression of pray in such places as sports events.

Though the circumstances presented in the cases made these actions unconstitutional they do not restrict the right we have to pray as individuals. Prayer is a universal action by an individual or group and is not associated with any specific religion or the endorsement of such and is simply our expression of our religious beliefs. Those who claim that individuals who pray in their presence violate their rights want this action to be restricted but in turn it violates our right to express our religious beliefs.

The Constitution is the law of the land and yet the principle of freedom of religion along with others seems to be under attack from those who want to restrict our right to practice our religious beliefs. Our right to pray when and where we want is a right which no court in my opinion has the authority to restrict. I do agree that when prayer is involved in a crowd setting it may make some individuals uncomfortable but those who pray feel it is the appropriate and right thing to do in specific circumstances. I agree with the principle that the government in line with the Constitution cannot in any shape or form establish a religion. What constitutes the establishment of a religion seems to be at the core of the issue.

The phrase Freedom of Religion seems to be interpreted differently dependent upon who is providing the interpretation. As citizens of this country we must respect the beliefs or non-beliefs of others but they must also respect our beliefs or non-beliefs. The element of prayer is what I believe to be a core principle in the right we have for freedom of religion. We as individuals should never apologize for our act of prayer and those who are offended by when and where we pray must understand this right. The element of prayer and what it represents may mean different things to different individuals but it is an act that should not be restricted. It makes no difference whether prayer is occurring in a public or private setting. We as individuals have our methods of prayer and it is an action that is not tied to any one religion.

Other court decisions have impacted the right to pray in our schools and have even placed restrictions on reciting the Pledge of Allegiance because it uses the word God. It does not and should not make a difference if an individual is an adult, child or student they have the same rights afforded them under the Constitution. Actions by courts have taken prayer out of our schools with some exceptions for religious institutions. I agree that the act of prayer should not be forced on any individual in any setting but praying should not be restricted for those who want to participate.

The decision by the Supreme Court may have had a different outcome if it involves individuals expressing their religious beliefs willingly without direction. The free will of individuals to pray or not to pray is something that is engrained in our character dependent on our beliefs. We as individuals should never be afraid to exercise the right we have to pray and our judicial system would be hard pressed to hand down a decision stating we cannot. It would violate our freedom of religion and the exercise thereof according to the Constitution. Exercising our beliefs is our right as citizens just as it is the rights of those who do not have any religious beliefs do not exercise any religious activity.

In closing our right to pray is only one action that is being attacked in terms of religious activity. We as individuals must stand up for our beliefs when others try to restrict our rights. There have been many court cases involving religious principles and there will probably be more in the future. It remains to be seen as other cases are brought before the Supreme Court whether the decisions made in the past will stand or be reversed. Though reversing Supreme Court decisions have been rare they have occurred. Practicing our religious beliefs is who we are as individuals and no individual has the right or the authority to restrict these rights.


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