Recognizing the National Prayer Day coming up this Thursday, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Monday announced that he has introduced in the House of Representatives a Constitutional Amendment to ensure voluntary prayer in public schools.
"As people of faith, Americans have often turned to prayer -- for comfort, for inspiration, for strength -- at some of our Nation's most trying times," said Rahall. "As Christians, we know what a powerful tool prayer can be to heal and focus our national energies in common cause, and so did our Founding Fathers."
The legislation that Rahall introduced, H.J. Res. 42, reads: "Nothing in this Constitution, including any amendment to the Constitution, shall be construed to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer in school, or to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer at a public school extracurricular activity."
Rahall, who sponsored the measure with Senator Byrd in previous Congresses, argued that the Constitutional separation of church and state has been misinterpreted over time. Rahall pointed out that the Constitutional language has been used to prevent even voluntary prayer in schools, something that he believes is contrary to the true intent of the Framers.
"As a Christian and a public servant, I am convinced that the Constitution was intended to ensure that the government not dictate religious practices or prevent individuals from worshipping as they choose -- like praying voluntarily in school. Many, including early English settlers, came to America to escape governments that established religions or discriminated against certain religious practices, and our Founding Fathers reflected on that when they crafted our government's guiding document," said Rahall.
"Faith is a critical and recurring theme in the history of our Nation -- from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to "This Nation, under God' in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, to our national motto of "In God We Trust.' Faith in our Creator has always sustained us as a nation and as a people. Our Nation's Framers clearly appreciated the value of religion, and I believe the Constitutional intent was to ensure its free practice unimpeded by government interference," said Rahall.