National Prayer Day: Cobb residents find 'strength on their knees'
by Katy Ruth Camp and Marcus E. Howard
krcamp@mdjonline.com
mhoward@mdjonline.com
May 07, 2010 12:00 AM | 2139 views | 2 2 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aroma of Praise singers from North Cobb Christrian School release balloons with prayers and scriptures attached in front of City Hall.<br>Photo by Laura Moon
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Heads were bowed across Cobb and the nation on Thursday as residents celebrated the 59th annual National Day of Prayer, even though a U.S. District Court Judge in Wisconsin declared the day unconstitutional last month.

The day began with the Cobb County Prayer Breakfast, conducted at 6:30 a.m. Thursday in the Cobb Galleria Centre. More than 900 people gathered to socialize, enjoy breakfast and hear former Oklahoma congressman and star football player J.C. Watts speak.

Watts, an ordained Baptist minister, told the audience to consider their ministers as "coaches, guiding you along the way" and encouraged them to pray for the country's elected officials.

"Pray that they find wisdom beyond their years as they make decisions, so that this place you and I call home and the rest call America will remain a pretty special place," Watts said at the conclusion of his speech, before receiving a standing ovation.

In Acworth, Mayor Tommy Allegood hosted the city's 10th annual National Day of Prayer ceremony at noon. More than 100 residents sat in front of City Hall to hear prayers given by local ministers and politicians, music by local entertainers and a walking parade of McCall Elementary School students, called the "Carnival of Hope."

In Marietta, Eastside Baptist Church on Lower Roswell Road also held a National Day of Prayer service at noon featuring religious, political and community leaders. Eastside Christian School students, dressed in school uniforms, sang songs in front of the primarily Eastside audience, before prayers were offered up for schools, the community, the church, military and the nation.

The program featured prayers by Eastside pastor Dr. David Chauncey, Rabbi Aaron Evans of Congregation Mishkan David, Dr. Robert Ndonga Marietta's Fountain of Life Church, Dr. Al Whittinghill of Ambassadors for Christ International, state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), and Eastside Head of School Judith Cripps.

The nation is in special need of prayer these days, Evans said.

Ndonga, a native of Kenya, told the audience the story of a young man he knew who took his own life a month ago as a result of ongoing problems. He said the man's house had been foreclosed, his car reposed and his wife had left him, along with his 7-month-old child.

"In times of crisis, looking for direction, looking for guidance, the citizens of this great nation have always found their strength on their knees," Ndonga said.

Without the public's prayers, Hill said he cannot effectively lead.

"In America, too man people take it for granted that we can he assemble today and everyday to pray," he said. "These freedoms, and all those who advocate preserving these freedoms, are under attack."

On April 15, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, citing a contradiction between the First Amendment's stance against government endorsement of religion and an annual presidential proclamation calling on Americans to prayer. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by a Madison, Wis.-based group of atheists and agnostics called The Freedom From Religion Foundation.

In her ruling, Crabb wrote: "(National Day of Prayer) goes beyond mere 'acknowledgement' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context."

The U.S. Justice Department appealed the ruling on behalf of the White House. The case will now go before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The lawsuit didn't stop President Barack Obama from signing the annual proclamation for the National Day of Prayer on April 30.

Allegood said the day is important to his city and the country as residents offer up prayer for leaders to make the best decisions possible for everyone.

"City Hall is the heartbeat of our community, and this day should be held where the heart is so that we can celebrate all of the blessings Jesus Christ has given us. It allows people to gather, to come together as one to offer up prayers for those who need them most," Allegood said.

Acworth resident Red Walker, 75, is a member of the First Baptist Church of Acworth and said he came to the ceremony to pray for the sick and to show his support for the nationally recognized day.

"It is an important day, and is even more important now as people try to take prayer away from our lives," Walker said.
Comments
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May 08, 2010
The judge is NOT correct, nor has any court been correct when taking religion out of schools, removing the 10 commandments from court buildings, or any other removal of things religious. The 1st Amendment only states that the government shall not establish a religion. This was to prevent another state religion ala Church of England. There was never an intent to remove all vestiges of religion from government or any agencies. If that was the intent, then prayer would have been removed from schools by 1800, and any mention of God would have been removed at the same time. Since it was not, it is obvious the intent was only to prevent a National Religion. Acknowledging God or any deity does not do that. The atheists are attempting to push their non-beliefs onto everyone, and continuing to refuse the government to acknowledge the existence of God or any deity is creating a Federal sponsored religion of atheism.
HardWired
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May 07, 2010
Judge Crabb's decision is correct. Government-sponsored prayer equates to a passive endorsement of the existence of a deity, vis-à-vis religion. Prayer is not the same as internal reflection or meditation; it's a message or request to a deity. I'm all for private practice of faith, even by public officials; it's a right granted to us by the Constitution, as is the right NOT to believe. Government agencies should raise the stars and stripes, pledge allegiance to it and begin their business.
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