Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Thanksgiving proclamations again

For those interested in reading all the Presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, as I once did, should begin at this site.

Here’s a quiz for you proclamation buffs out there. Who’s the author of this one?

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord." Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God.

The final months of this year, now almost spent, find our Republic and the nations joined with it waging a battle on many fronts for the preservation of liberty.

In giving thanks for the greatest harvest in the history of our nation, we who plant and reap can well resolve that in the year to come we will do all in our power to pass that milestone; for by our labors in the fields we can share some part of the sacrifice with our brothers and sons who wear the uniform of the United States.

It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, "Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection," and that every American in his own way lift his voice to Heaven.

I recommend that all of us bear in mind this great Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me I the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Inspired with faith and courage by these words, let us turn again to the work that confronts us in this time of national emergency : in the armed services and the merchant marine; in factories and offices; on farms and in the mines; on highways, railways and airways; in other places of public service to the Nation; and in our homes.

I wonder what Richard Cohen would say about this guy.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Unusual bit about this Proclamation, in the dark days of 1942, was President Roosevelt's call to prayer, "public and private," on Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day, 1943. I mean, like, was this even Constitutional?

He wasn't establishing a religion in the traditional sense, so he'd pass my originalist First Amendment test. The contemporary Court might call this "ceremonial deism," acceptable as long as we don't take it too seriously. Another tack is to apply the infamous "endorsement test," in which case FDR--they don't make "faithful Democrats" like him any more--would likely flunk.

It's funny that we would even raise the question of whether a public and private prayer is constitutional. The Founders would be aghast - even the supposedly deist Ben Franklin asked for the intervention of Providence and prayer at the Constitutional Convention. The First Amendment simply bans Congress from establishing any one religion/denomination such as Roman Catholics, Hindus, Baptists, Presbyterians as the offical national church. A prayer does not do that at all. May God bless all of you this Thanksgiving, whether you believe in him or not.

Tony, that was just right. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all.

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