03 July 2016


I have heard it said by those who misread the First Amendment as a Constitutionally-mandated "freedom from religion"--something it never has been--that we as a people should be "protected"  from the "modern imposition" of religion through prayer at the opening of each day's sessions of the House and the Senate.  This is, of course, utter nonsense in so many different and distinct ways, but one of the most cynical is the assertion that the Founding Fathers had no interest in religion in general or the Christian faith in particular.
In fact, the practice of opening legislative deliberations with prayer predates our existence as free and independent States by nearly two years.  The record shows that when the first representatives to the First Continental Congress met for the first time, the question arose as to what should be their first action. 
John Adams, Esquire, of Massachusetts (later first Vice President of the United States and second President) proposed that before anything else, the Congress should be opened with prayer.  Accordingly, Rev Jacob Duche, Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia was summoned to offer opening prayer.  After reading Psalm 35, he offered the following prayer--which still resonates and is equally applicable to our current National leaders.
"O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!
Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.
Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.

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