I find myself in an odd position here, answering ‘no’ to this question. I wholeheartedly believe in the separation of church and state. I do not believe in formal prayers in school or workplace, and nor do I believe in benedictions at public functions. I cannot accept the idea that I should be forced to pray to someone else’s god. By the same token, I cannot force someone to pray to my God either.
I made the above distinction because there are times when I feel as if the Jesus Christ I pray to is not the same Christ others pray to. When I hear of ministers burning someone else’s holy book, I want to scream that that isn’t what God wants of us. By the same token, I have a hard time listening to and seriously accepting prayers said in an arena of thousands led by a man who calls his hunting lodge by an incredibly insensitive name. And it seems to me that those who pray the loudest or hardest in public are the same people with the most glaring deficits in their natures. I also feel as if those same Christians give other Christians a bad name.
Now having said that, let me point out that the arena I referred to was an event in which people gathered with the sole intention of praying. No one was forced to pray, and no one was forced to attend.
Now let me take this one step forward. I am what I am, and my religion is part and parcel of me. I was raised within the Catholic Church. During my younger years I fell away, saying that I knew God existed but wasn’t so sure what or who God is. At this point, I honestly question if any of us really knows God. We seem to forget his instructions on how to treat each other. I include myself in that sentiment because as hard as I try to do otherwise, I’ve caught myself inadvertently saying and doing things that I know are wrong. Since my youth, my outlook has changed a lot. I not only acknowledge my religion, but I am more likely to frame my decisions according to my early training.
At one time my Catholic predecessors were discriminated against because of religion. That experience tells me that a separation of Church and State is sorely needed. Where it won’t prevent discrimination, it helps to discourage it.
I was taught to keep my prayers and feelings to myself. That doesn’t mean that I don’t say them, because I do. To myself and in the privacy of my own little world. Life though, is overwhelming at times, and at times I find a need to sit and consider the world around me. That might mean a quick prayer. And this is where the but comes in. If I find that need to fall to my knees and say a quick “Thank you, God,” or “Please help me through this trial,” remember that it is me making the prayer in silence, and I am not forcing anyone to say it with me. Give me this right and I will gladly provide you the same right.