The ACLU of Iowa strongly supports religious freedom, a fundamental American value. Religious freedom includes the idea that our government should not endorse or promote a particular religion. We also stand for the American values of equality, fair treatment, and freedom. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation promoting Christianity violates the principle of religious freedom enshrined in the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions.
Statements such as, “God’s word teaches us to ‘Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying,'” and “God’s unconditional love by sending His Son, Jesus, to be Savior of the world is remembered and celebrated by Christians during Holy Week of Easter each year,” endorse one particular religion.
Religious freedom is alive and well in the United States precisely because the government can’t tell us when, how, or even whether, to pray. The Governor calling for prayer to a specific deity is an insult to our proud tradition of religious pluralism and equality. It sends an unconstitutional and exclusionary message that people of a particular faith are officially favored while everyone else is second-class, or worse, in the government’s eyes. When, how, or whether to pray is a deeply personal decision—one that should be made without the government’s interference or influence.
Our government is of the people, by the people, for the people, regardless of faith. Government prayer is a recipe for religious exclusion that undermines these timeless principles. Calling for prayer to one particular God at this time divides us more than it unites us, and we sorely need leadership that brings our state together during this difficult time.