November 20, 1917
From the beginning of schools in America, students prayed.
A prayer prayed in the public schools in New Hyde Park, New York, was:
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
Five individuals intolerant of prayer brought a lawsuit, and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black issued his infamous opinion in Engle v. Vitale, 1962, prohibiting prayer in public schools.
Hugo Black was a Democrat Senator from Alabama whose only court experience was one year as a city court judge, until Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court.
President Ronald Reagan commented on March 6, 1984, regarding Justice Hugo Black’s opinion:
From the early days of the American colonies, prayer in schools was practiced and revered as an important tradition.
Indeed, for nearly 2 centuries of our history it was considered a natural expression of our religious freedom. Then in 1962, the Supreme Court declared school prayer illegal.
Well, I firmly believe the loving God who has blessed our land and made us a good caring people should never have been expelled from America’s classrooms.
On June 27, 1962, just two days after Hugo Black’s decision to stop school prayer, Senator Robert Byrd addressed Congress:
Inasmuch as our greatest leaders have shown no doubt about God’s proper place in the American birthright, can we, in our day, dare do less? …
In no other place in the United States are there so many, and such varied official evidences of deep and abiding faith in God on the part of Government as there are in Washington.
Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, born NOVEMBER 20, 1917, was the longest serving member of the United States Congress rising to the position of Senate Majority Leader.
He was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1953, and served in the Senate from 1959-2010. Senator Byrd never lost an election.
At age 24, Robert Byrd, like other Southern Democrats, had joined the KKK. He later renounced this affiliation, calling it “the worst mistake of my life.”
President Obama honored Senator Byrd at his death, saying the Senate:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated:
has lost a venerable institution and America has lost a voice of principle and reason.
Senator Byrd was a man of surpassing eloquence and nobility … It is almost impossible to imagine the United States Senate without Robert Byrd. He was not just its longest serving member, he was its heart, its soul, and its historian. From my first day in the Senate, I sought out his guidance … As Secretary of State, I continued to rely on his advice and counsel.
Democrat Senator Robert Byrd continued his address, June 27, 1962:
Every session of the House and the Senate begins with prayer. Each house has its own chaplain …
The 83rd Congress set aside a small room in the Capitol, just off the rotunda, for the private prayer and meditation of members of Congress.
The room is always open when Congress is in session, but it is not open to the public.
The room’s focal point is a stained glass window showing George Washington kneeling in prayer. Behind him is etched these words from Psalm 16:1: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust’ …
Senator Byrd went on:
Inside the rotunda is a picture of the Pilgrims about to embark from Holland on the sister ship of the Mayflower, the Speedwell.
The ship’s revered chaplain, Brewster, who later joined the Mayflower, has open on his lap the Bible.
Very clear are the words, ‘the New Testament according to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.’
On the sail is the motto of the Pilgrims, ‘In God We Trust, God With Us.’
The phrase, ‘In God We Trust,’ appears opposite the President of the Senate, who is the Vice-President of the United States.
The same phrase, in large words inscribed in the marble, backdrops the Speaker of the House of Representatives …
Senator Byrd added:
Above the head of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are the Ten Commandments, with the great American eagle protecting them.
Moses is included among the great lawgivers in Herman A. MacNeil’s marble sculpture group on the east front.
The crier who opens each session closes with the words, ‘God save the United States and this Honorable Court.’
Engraved on the metal on the top of the Washington Monument are the words: ‘Praise be to God.’
Lining the walls of the stairwell are such biblical phrases as ‘Search the Scriptures,’ ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’
Numerous quotations from Scripture can be found within its (the Library of Congress) walls.
One reminds each American of his responsibility to his Maker: ‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with thy God’ (Micah 6:8).
Senator Byrd added:
Senator Byrd stated further:
Another in the lawmaker’s library preserves the Psalmist’s acknowledgment that all nature reflects the order and beauty of the Creator, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1).
And still another reference: ‘The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not’ (John 1:5) …
Millions have stood in the Lincoln Memorial and gazed up at the statue of the great Abraham Lincoln.
The sculptor who chiseled the features of Lincoln in granite all but seems to make Lincoln speak his own words inscribed into the walls.
‘ … That this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’
At the opposite end, on the north wall, his Second Inaugural Address alludes to ‘God,’ the ‘Bible,’ ‘providence,’ ‘the Almighty,’ and ‘divine attributes.’
It then continues:
‘As was said 3000 years ago, so it still must be said, The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’ …
Senator Robert Byrd concluded:
On the south banks of Washington’s Tidal Basin, Thomas Jefferson still speaks:
‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.’
Jefferson’s words are a forceful and explicit warning that to remove God from this country will destroy it.
Senator Byrd’s home State of West Virginia stated in its 1872 Constitution:
West Virginia Congressman Nick Joe Rahall addressed the U.S. House of Representatives, August 11, 1992:
Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia, in and through the provisions of this Constitution, reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a House joint resolution calling for the designation of Thanksgiving week as ‘America’s Christian Heritage Week’ …
One of the first things we, our parents before us, and our children after us, learned in school was that the settlement of America came about because of the desire of oppressed peoples to have the freedom to worship as they please …
And while we watch … emerging democracies … turn from the long held atheism of communism to true religious freedoms, we find ourselves, with heavy hearts, watching our own Government succumb to pressures to distant itself from God and religion …
It was not … mere chance that placed the freedom to worship according to individual conscience among the first freedoms specified in the Bill of Rights …
When Abraham Lincoln sat apart a day for national prayer and humiliation, he cried out: ‘We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.’
Rep. Nick Rahall continued:
Help us make our families truly free by teaching them that God holds us all accountable …
The freedom we give thanks for … especially … on Thanksgiving day, is at stake when we can no longer hear a child’s prayer in school, or a benediction at a high school students’ graduation ceremony …
There is no better place than this great land of America for people to … declare that our trust is in God, and that we look to His commandments and teachings for values that fortify and give direction to our families …
We as Members of Congress begin our session in the House Chamber with a prayer and we follow it by a pledge of allegiance which contains the words, ‘one Nation under God, indivisible’ …
As Members we are deeply familiar with George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, acknowledging the Providence of Almighty God.
West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton proclaimed March 8-14, 1992, as “Christian Heritage Week”:
WHEREAS, The importance of Christian Heritage to the traditions and values of our state is immeasurable … and
WHEREAS, The community church serves a vital function in binding folk together and providing crucial education and charitable services; and
WHEREAS, Teaching future generations of West Virginians the all important role of Christian Heritage is of crucial concern to West Virginians of all faiths;
NOW, THEREFORE, Be it Resolved that I, Gaston Caperton, Governor of the State of West Virginia, do hereby proclaim March 8, 1992 through March 14, 1992 as: ‘CHRISTIAN HERITAGE WEEK’ in West Virginia.