If you could go back in time and ask the Framers just one question to clarify meaning, what would it be, and why is the answer important today?"

Essay by Quinny March 2005

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If I could go back in time, I would ask the Framers of the Constitution to clarify the First Amendment of the Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." My question would be: Did you intend to prohibit praying or the utterance of God's name in our public schools or public gatherings?

I think this clarification is important today because of the ambiguous messages being sent and that the preservation of religious liberties is in jeopardy. There are so many different views on how the First Amendment rights should be used. I recently read my local newspaper's editorial section. There were eight letters written on First Amendment issues. The following are some of the subtitles for those letters: "Freedom of Expression is Best Course, with some Exceptions"; "First Amendment Used Improperly"; "Free Speech Not Always Pretty, but Right"; "Press Freedom Brings Mixed Feelings" and "Constitution's Intent Must be Upheld".

In the last letter, the writer felt the basic document speaks for itself and we must do all we can to preserve its original intent. Unfortunately, we don't all agree on the original intent.

Regarding the "prayer in public areas" issue, I find it very confusing why public praying was stopped. Every time I spend money, I see the words "In God We Trust." Many of

the inscriptions found in public places in our Nation's Capitol also refer to God. Article VII of the Constitution reads in part "...Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven..."

Yet some of the mixed messages being sent are that we are expected to remain silent on matters of Faith, so as not to be offensive to others; that our openness of expression of...