Judge Rules Statute Setting National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional ... Americans Urge President Obama to Appeal
Contact: Michael Calhoun, Director, The National Day of Prayer Task Force, 719-531-3379, [email protected]
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- The National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF) and Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) are urging President Obama to appeal federal judge Barbara Crabb's decision in Wisconsin that struck down a federal statute that sets a day for the National Day of Prayer. The order does not affect presidential prayer proclamations and will not go into effect unless the decision still stands after all appeals are exhausted in the case.
Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson, said "Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty. This is a concerted effort by a small but determined number of people who have tried to prohibit all references to the Creator in the public square, whether it be the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the simple act of corporate prayer -- this is unconscionable for a free society."
Joel Oster, ADF senior counsel, echoed these sentiments saying, "It's important to remember this about the National Day of Prayer: It's America's heritage, and this day belongs to Americans -- the court should not have struck down this statute. ADF urges the Obama administration to appeal this terrible ruling that not only undermines the National Day of Prayer, but the underlying heritage and tradition of the American people which dates back to the nation's founding."
"The National Day of Prayer provides an opportunity for all Americans to pray voluntarily according to their own faith," Oster explained. "It does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and this decision should be appealed."
In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution of Congress to set aside an annual National Day of Prayer. Congress amended the law in 1988, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, for the purpose of establishing a more particular date. The law currently reads, "The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." The Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the constitutionality of the statute in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
The tradition of designating an official day of prayer actually began with the Continental Congress in 1775, after which President George Washington issued a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation. Ever since, American presidents have made similar proclamations and "appeals to the Almighty." Historically, all 50 governors, along with U.S. presidents, have issued proclamations in honor of the National Day of Prayer.
The court order does not demand that the 59th National Day of Prayer which occurs May 6th, be canceled. Citizens desiring more information on the efforts of the NDPTF and ADF to defend the National Day of Prayer can visit www.NationalDayofPrayer.org.
About the National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States of America, evidenced by the Continental Congress’ proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.