Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Inaugural Prayers: From Pluralistic to Protestant

In the WSJ Steven Waldman observes that presidential inaugural prayers used to be ecumenical (e.g., Truman used a Protestant minister, a Catholic priest, and a rabbi) but now all 12 prayers since 1989 will have been delivered by Protestants. This tendency, he argues, compromises the ceremony.

But Waldman, a leading historian of religion and politics, undermines his credibility by asserting that presidentially mandated sectarian prayers are a great infringement on the First Amendment. Yet the First Amendment restricts only Congress’s legislative powers—do read the text!--not the President’s authority. Thus George Washington proclaimed (with Congress) a day of Thanksgiving.

The founding generation was honoring the intent of a document that concludes itself “done in Year of our Lord” 1787 and of Independence the twelfth. Presidents have the duty, as Waldman implicitly recognizes, of prudently bringing together the abiding sacred with the changing secular realms. That is in fact what our Constitution and Declaration challenge Americans to do.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Nothing restricts the president's powers on this blog. I wonder: did Bush bring together the abiding sacred with the changing secular? More likely his prayers just played evangelicals for fools. Regardless, the inaugural prayers of millions have been answered, and this pestilential soul has finally, finally been removed from power.

Would you care to go on record predicting what fundamental changes Obama will make from the bush regime? I would love to hear how things are going to be different. Its not the patriot act, its not wars, its not supply side economics. Is it the proposed civilian/military police squads? I'm not thrilled at the empowerment of amatuer spies. We have to give him time, but what are your expectations of Obama and he is going to differ from Bush outside of demeanor and rhetoric?

Barack Obama, card-carrying member of the Bushoisie. :-)

Laugh if you want, but anyone on here want to make a prediction.

I found this from a familar guy to the Ashland crowd. I think it does a good of laying out why conservatives are in the position they are in. As long as no one asks an Israeli dignitary about it we should be OK.

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