National Day of Prayer Is Legal
Special Report - March 31, 2011
In a letter mailed to the governors of every state earlier this week, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) emphasizes that participation by public officials in the upcoming 60th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) is “constitutional and appropriate,” and urges state leaders to continue the long-standing tradition of voluntary public prayer on the first Thursday of May. The letter to governors, which was issued by ADF on March 28, notes that last year’s decision by a federal district judge in Wisconsin, which found that the 1952 federal statute establishing the NDP violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, “does nothing to change the law,” and that enforcement of the decision is on hold pending appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The ADF letter also argues that official proclamations about the NDP by local, state and national government leaders are constitutional, despite ongoing challenges to the annual prayer event by atheist groups and their allies. “You can be confident that your participation in and acknowledgement of the National Day of Prayer are constitutionally protected activities,” ADF attorneys explain in the letter. “You are free to proclaim your support for this event, and you are under no obligation to satisfy the demands of any disgruntled individual or civil libertarian group that may oppose such action.” The letter also points out that, “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged that presidential proclamations of thanksgiving and prayer, including the National Day of Prayer, are indeed a part of our culture and tradition and are in no way a violation of the Constitution.”
The 60th annual National Day of Prayer is scheduled for May 5, 2011. This year’s theme is, “A mighty fortress is our God,” and is based on Psalm 91:2, which reads: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in Whom I trust.” Joni Eareckson Tada, an international advocate for people with disabilities, is the 2011 honorary chairman. Visit the NDP website to read the 2011 National Prayer written by Jodi Eareckson Tada, and to post or find an NDP event in your community.
“America’s founders participated in public prayer activities; public officials today should be able to do the same,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot in a statement. “Local observances of the National Day of Prayer are constitutional and appropriate, particularly since the event simply provides all Americans an opportunity to pray voluntarily according to their own faithand does not promote any particular religion or form of religious observance.”
Attorney General Joins Prayer Brief - July 16, 2010
NCFPC Joins Day Of Prayer Brief - July 7, 2010
Pray For Our Nation Today - January 12, 2009
Judge Says No National Day Of Prayer - April 19, 2010
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