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God, “Ground Zero” Prayer & “Ceremonial Deism”

At the 10th anniversary of September 11, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to the American Family Association, “has banned all clergy and all prayer from the upcoming 9/11 Memorial service planned to commemorate the tragic events of that day.”[1]  Fox News reported on August 26, 2011, that even after many requests from religious and conservative leaders to reconsider his exclusion of prayer and clergy, Mayor Bloomberg has refused and will stand fast in his decision.[2]  Does everyone agree with barring God from the 9/11 commemoration service in New York and who gave Bloomberg the authority to exclude God and prayer from our One Nation Under God?

The Wall Street Journal spoke with Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani‘s administration, who said he is outraged; “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me, I feel like America has lost its way.”[3]  The attack on traditional prayer in the public arena is not new to America.  This battle has been around for decades and continues to make the news.  Below is a brief list of pertinent headlines:

Oct. 5, 2002 Supreme court steps are ‘no prayer’ zone.  Midwestern women were shooed away by police officer. The Washington Times
Apr. 26, 2004 Court Won’t Reinstate Prayer at School The Washington Post
Aug. 30, 2005 Air Force Bans Leaders’ Promotion of Religion.
Guidelines caution against promoting any particular faith or even “the idea of religion over nonreligion” in official communications or functions like meetings, sports events and ceremonies.
The New York Times
Oct. 20, 2005 Executive Order Sought on Prayers. NC republican Walter Jones collected signatures in Congress asking President Bush to “step in to protect religious freedom.” The Washington Times

Aug. 14, 2009 School Prayer Charges Stir Protests
Florida school principal and an athletic director face criminal charges and up to six months in jail over their offer of a mealtime prayer.
The Washington Times
Apr. 16, 2010 Judge: Prayer day violates U.S. law The Washington Times
Jan. 21, 2011 Hawaii: After Complaint, Senate Stops Praying The Associated Press
Apr. 14, 2011 Appeals Court Overturns Day of Prayer BanJudges say atheists suffered no harm The Washington Times
Jul. 26, 2011 The Brewing Battle Over the Ground Zero Cross
An atheist advocacy organization filed suit today in New York state court to protest the cross (pictured left) that is a part of a memorial display at Ground Zero to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 31, 2011 Houston National Cemetery in Prayer Dispute The New York Times


A new standard for limiting the public acknowledgement of God was set out by Sandra Day O’Connor in the 2004 Newdow 9th circuit Pledge of Allegiance case, (Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow).  The ACLU – along with others who dispute the historical fact of America as “One Nation Under God” with the “laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the foundation of American law and civil government – hold and promote that God is merely an empty religious icon. O’Connor’s new criteria in Newdow is termed  “Ceremonial Deism.” 

Mayor Bloomberg seems to be acting on the guidance of Ceremonial Deism, which forbids basic public expression (worship and prayer) in a public arena or government-funded context, but has never been confirmed by the supreme Court.

It calls for eliminating any notion of prayer being returned to schools or at other public functions, perhaps including historic prayer in the military, prayer in Congress, prayer at Inaugurations, public proclamations for prayer, any Christian clubs or organizations on College campuses, military chaplains, prayer groups meeting in a Senator’s office, and most of our patriotic hymns could not be sung in public, just to scratch the surface.  The ten-year anniversary of 9/11 at “Ground Zero” in New York is evidence of how the ACLU is muting the nation’s acknowledgement of God Almighty in the Public Square by its continuous assaults from within and without the government and through artifices like Ceremonial Deism.

There are numerous examples over the centuries of America’s national and military leaders who stood on America’s founding principles and publicly petitioned Almighty God:

  • On June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt called upon the entire nation and led them in prayer during his radio address, praying for our assault forces and for the families of those who would give the supreme sacrifice in the D-Day invasion.[4]
  • During World War II, exemplary officer General George Patton led the famous and effective prayer for favorable weather during the crucial 1944 Battle of the Bulge.  Patton’s prayer was issued to 3,200 officers and chaplains in the Third Army to “…urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as to fight.”[5]  
  • The second founding principle of the US Armed Forces calls for daily prayer. Article 2, of The Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North America, 1775, states:  ‘The Commanders of the ships of the thirteen United Colonies, are to take care that divine service be performed twice a day on board, and a sermon preached on Sundays, unless bad weather or other extraordinary accidents prevent it.’

Daily prayer recalls to all military and civilian leaders that, as John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

As I go through the possible order of that solemn day set for the commemoration of the 9/11 tragedy and the loss of life, to not recognize the ultimate giver and taker of life would be like going to a wedding, a state instituted by God, and not mentioning God.  Or have you ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn’t mention being thankful to God and His Providence?  Ceremonial Deism provides a hollow and shallow experience for those who understand with or without evolution there is something larger than Man ordering a vast universe.  An overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God and yet, His name will not be mentioned in this year’s 9/11 proceedings, even when our founders declared God, “to be a self evident truth.”

America’s right to pray has been a bedrock principle of this country since the creation of the Republic in 1776, both in the military, in the civil government and the Public Square. It is time that We the People stand up to growing un-American political agendas and radical groups focused on removing all historical Christian foundations from this once great nation and help America find her way once again and regain the only sure protection against future attacks on America, its institutions and its citizens.

[2] Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, summarized this decision for Fox News, “Mayor Bloomberg is allowing the presence of politicians and presidents, but no pastors or prayer.”[2]
[4] Jack Dixon, Our Sons Will Triumph, From the D-Day prayer of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, June sixth, 1944.  NY:  Thomas Y. Crowell, 1944.
[5] James H. O’Neill, The True Story of the Patton Prayer. The Military Chaplain.  Vol. 19, No. 2, at 3, 13 (1948).