I've had this debate several places, and the majority of answers were "of course its constitutional, you bigot! YOU don't have to pray!" *foams at mouth*
All while completely ignoring this:
Lemon v Kurtzman (1971):
In the absence of precisely stated constitutional prohibitions, we must draw lines with reference to the three main evils against which the Establishment Clause was intended to afford protection: "sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity."
Every analysis in this area must begin with consideration of the cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years. Three such tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion."
But of course, even our own government tends to be flaky when they decide on what exactly is a secular legislative purpose, as we obviously still have Christmas Day as a national holiday as well.
So what do my fellow atheists think?
Yay or nay?
Absolutely not- "no" means "no"- "congress shall make NO law respecting the establishment of religion." No matter how you slice this, the fundamentalists lobbied Congress successfully in the 50's and they MADE and PASSED a law with respect to the establishment of religion. You can play semantic games with this all you want, but the intent of the First Amendment was NO law.
But just like the bible is twisted and distorted to maintain certain beliefs/doctrines, so too the Constitution was distorted to allow SOME laws since they might not actually be pertaining to the "establishment of religion." But this clearly is hogwash- what else IS the intent of these "laws" other than to establish some sort of religion?
NO means NO- and I for one am pissed off that we allowed and continue to allow these people to promote their religious agendas at the state and federal levels.
And for those who talk about tradition- slavery was a tradition, not allowing women to vote was a tradition, etc. And here's some real history for the people who say "it's part of our heritage:"
Per Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention:
The Constitutional Convention convened on May 25, 1787. On June 28, after a full month without prayer (and an unsuccessful previous motion for prayer), Franklin proposed prayer, Sherman seconded the motion, Hamilton and others expressed apprehension, Randolph proposed a sermon on July 4 to be followed by morning prayers, Franklin seconded the motion, there were several unsuccessful attempts for silently postponing the matter by adjourning, the adjournment was at length carried, without any vote on the motion. (sneaky bastards)
Religion has always been a contentious issue, and it is an oversimplification to invoke the practices of the "the founding fathers." Many were deists and would likely have become atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc. if they had the scientific knowledge we have today.
Finally, the founding fathers feared an oppressive majority:
Madison, June 4: “In all countries are diversities of interests, the rich and the poor, the debtors and the creditors, the followers of different demagogues, the diversity of religious sects. The effects of these divisions in ancient governments are well known, and the like causes will now produce like effects. We must therefore introduce in our system provisions against the measures of an interested majority.”
..And even Christmas is unconstitutional, but again, the tyrannical majority still has their way here.
It can't recognize all religious holidays; it can't recognize irreligion.
It keeps everyones' rights intact, and not just the atheists.
It's a shame that these people don't see this- it's the Christian version of Sharia law.