National Day of Prayer Upheld
Special Report - April 18, 2011
A federal appeals court has vacated an April 2010 decision by a district court judge that struck down the statute creating a National Day of Prayer (NDP). A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled 3 to 0 on April 14 that the atheist groups who filed the lawsuit, Freedom from Religion Foundation vs. Obama, had no legal standing to sue, and sent the case back to the district court with orders that the lawsuit be dismissed. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled last year that the federal statute creating a NDP violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Crabb placed a hold on her decision pending appeal before the Seventh Circuit.
In the nine-page opinion in the appeal issued last week, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook concluded, “that neither the statute nor the President’s implementing proclamations injures plaintiffs, who therefore lack standing.” Judge Easterbrook also wrote in the opinion, “Those who do not agree with a President’s statement may speak in opposition to it; they are not entitled to silence the speech of which they disapprove. Plaintiffs contend that they are injured because they feel excluded, or made unwelcome, when the President asks them to engage in a religious observance that is contrary to their own principles. It is difficult to see how any reader of the 2010 proclamation would feel excluded or unwelcome.”
In a press release Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the NDP Task Force, applauded the decision. “Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty,” Mrs. Dobson said. “Prayer is an indispensable part of our heritage, and as citizens, we must remain faithful in our commitment to intercede for our nation during this pivotal and challenging time.”
In response to the appeals court ruling, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the atheist group that is challenging the NDP, announced that it would immediately seek a rehearing of the case before the entire Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (the April 14 decision was issued by a three-judge panel of the court).
The federal statute establishing the NDP was signed into law by President Truman in 1952, and later amended by Congress in 1988 to set aside the first Thursday of every May as the official day of the event. The 60th annual National Day of Prayer will be held May 5, 2011, and Joni Eareckson Tada, an international advocate for people with disabilities, is the 2011 Honorary Chairman.
National Day of Prayer Is Legal - March 31, 2011
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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