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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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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis AuBuchon 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Sparklea,

      Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate any input and feedback.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 

      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      An excellent hub, not to mention the above comments. Although I am a Christian, I respect any and all other religions. I have explored all kinds of beliefs. It is wonderful to know I can communicate with God any time of any day. I believe it would be disrespectful to drag others into my personal beliefs. But for me, I can't imagine not having anyone to turn to, especially during difficult times. Belief in the existence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, has saved my life many times. I believe everything written in the Bible because, for me, God has always remained faithful to His Word. Thank you, Dennis, for a very thought provoking hub.

      And to James Watkins, I totally agree about your views on the force behind this war. Sincerely, Blessings, Sparklea

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis AuBuchon 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      James,

      Thanks for stopping by and providing your comments. I always look forward to your hubs and your comments.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this needful and most excellent Hub. When the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in school in 1963 it marked the first time in American history that any prayer said anywhere had been outlawed. Since then, subsequent rulings have further limited where prayer is allowed.

      It seems that if 100 people want to pray together and 1 person objects—that 1 person wins the day under our brand new (mis)interpretations of the Constitution. There is surely a war against God going on in America. We would have to be blind not to see it. The force behind this war I have no doubt is Satan. His human henchmen may not know they are doing his bidding.

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis AuBuchon 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for the comments

    • ShawnB2011 profile image

      ShawnB2011 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      Gotta go with josak on this one. I was actually thinking about this today, if I don't believe in God do I have to raise my hand and swear by him in the court of law? Not fair for non believers. I don't think so.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 

      9 years ago from variable

      joe scalise, well said

    • profile image

      joe scalise 

      9 years ago

      Anyone can pray at anytime in any place. All people can pray. It doesn't require vocal chords. Prayer is communicaton between man and his God. Because there are many differebt Gods and not one being the sole recognized God of the U.S., such as the stars and stripes are the sole flag of the United States, the practice of all religions must be protected. Prayer does not have to be broadcast in the presence of believers of another faith if it is being done in public. In the homes and churches of the particular believers it can be vocalized but certain freedoms can infringe on others when done in public. Would it be practical to allow Muslims to place prayer rugs down in grocery stores and permit shoppers to face west in the middle of an aisle and perform their ritualisitic mutterings. Public schools are for people of all religions to seek an education. At anytime during that process anyone can say silent prayer which I am sure would be heard by thier God. This country is tolerant of all religions and even recognizes the belief that there is no God. America does not recognize one religion above another and should not make provisions for any one sect. No religious belief should be legislated. I really, on a personal level, don't see why anyone would want to verbally broadcast a prayer between themselves and their God. And I personally don't want to hear what anyone has to say to their God. And I also believe that a prayer to God is an impromptu conversation from the soul not a prewritten chant that people spew out in unison. But I wouldn't presume to tell others how to pray, though I am not uncomfortable to say that I don't want to hear their prayers. And that's what it's all about isn't it believers wanting others to hear them worship maybe in hopes that they could earn a stripe for converting one of the lost heathens that don't share their beliefs. I say be comfortable in your homes and churches where you can exercise your prayer at the top of your lungs and in public be comfortable that you can wail at the highest pitch of your soul while reaching your God and not disturbing others.

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 

      9 years ago from variable

      I am an Atheist, having clarified that I fully support your right to pray and observe your rites and rituals so long as they do not negatively influence others, on that note do you not think that ritual actions in schools among children who are so impressionable could lead to a form of brainwashing? I do and thats why I agree with the courts decision.

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