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The lines between church and state are crystal clear for some and fuzzy for others, but most Americans agree there is a separation intended by our Constitution. Unfortunately, this division has been carried to extremes, resulting in what amounts to government-sanctioned efforts to make society devoid of religion. How can this happen? It happens because there is so little of society that hasn't been touched by government in one way or another. As a result, the influence of too much government has been too little religion.

There is an effort this year to restore a modicum of balance. A national group calling itself Presidential Prayer '96 is encouraging Americans to pray for the presidential candidates and for those who will vote in the presidential election.

And locally there is an effort to inject prayerful consideration into the elections. The Ministerial Alliance in Cape Girardeau is organizing an all-day prayer vigil the day before this year's general election.

This effort deserves both support and participation. The intent is to make religious voters mindful of the role God plays in our daily lives. Moreover, voters who understand the power of prayer are being encouraged to direct that power to this year's elections, both in seeking guidance before entering the voting booth and in asking God's blessing on those who seek public office.

Too often voters who also are religious are lumped into a particular political party or ideology. But the simple fact is that virtually every candidate who will be on the ballot in Southeast Missouri -- federal, state and local -- has a strong religious affiliation, attends church regularly and proudly lists his or her church membership in campaign literature. Candidates with varying views often come closest to total agreement in their belief in God and the importance of religion in both our private and public lives.

Moreover, most voters in these parts who go to the polls on Nov. 5 are religious in one way or another, most having strong ties to a particular denomination.

The commendable effort to create an atmosphere of prayer the day before the election deserves not only support, but ample participation. Regular churchgoers can check to see what opportunities are available during the Nov. 4 prayer vigil. Most churches in Cape Girardeau will be open all day for walk-ins who want a quiet time in a reverent place to reflect on the election and have their own personal conversation with God.