(by Nathan Burchfiel, CNSNews.com) – A group of lawmakers who meet each week to pray in the U.S. Capitol called on the American people Wednesday to join them in praying for the country. However, supporters of a so-called separation between church and state said the lawmakers should “stop meddling in religion and get back to work.”
“There is an enormous power in prayer,” Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) told a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. “This is a crucial time for those who believe in the power to pray that God would heal our land and sustain our nation.”
The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, a group of lawmakers led by Forbes that holds a weekly prayer meeting in the Capitol, has launched a website asking Americans to commit to pray for five minutes every week.
“Our nation faces enormous challenges that seem to grow daily,” Forbes said, calling on Americans of all faiths to “build a spiritual prayer wall around America that will go 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) asked Americans to “pray for our Congress and to pray for our nation – no matter what your religious background or political affiliation – to pray for our country and pray for those who are seeking to lead our country, for wisdom.”
“We know we’re promised in scripture that if you ask for wisdom, God will grant it, and we want to ask for that wisdom,” he said, adding that “there are no limitations to prayer, no limitations to what God can do as we seek wisdom and guidance for our country.”
While more than two dozen lawmakers – mostly Southern Republicans – took turns praising the power of prayer on the Capitol grounds, proponents of a separation between church and state criticized them for mixing religion and politics.
“Congressional meddling in religion is an affront to the First Amendment principle of church-state separation,” Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement. “Religion is too important to become a political football.”
Lynn said there are “a host of political issues of utmost importance to Americans. Rep. Forbes and other members of Congress should work on those and leave decisions about religion to the American people.”
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1. What is the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation?
2. What is the Congressional Prayer Caucus calling on Americans of all faiths to do?
3. Why are these Congressmen calling for prayer?
4. What are they asking Americans to pray for?
5. Why does the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State oppose the Congressional Prayer Caucus?
6. Which group do you agree with – the praying Congressmen or the Americans United for Separation of Church and State? Explain your answer.
Visit the Congressional Prayer Caucus website at prayercaucus.org.)
7. OPTIONAL: Many presidents have called on Americans to pray for our country, including:
- Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Americans to join him in a prayer for the soldiers fighting at Normandy on D-Day. Read the prayer here.
- Abraham Lincoln signed a Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day. Read the proclamation here.
- During the Constitutional Convention of 1787 Benjamin Franklin said the following in a speech:
“The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks attendance & continual reasonings with each other-our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes and ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, some we have been running about in search of it. ……………….
I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.”
Research instances where Congressmen have called on Americans to pray for our country in the past.
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