Lawsuit Against National Day of Prayer Dismissed

On April 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dismissed the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) lawsuit attacking the federal government’s observance of National Day of Prayer, ruling that the atheists do not have legal standing to bring the suit. Liberty Institute and Family Research Council (FRC) filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of Dr. James Dobson, Citizenlink (formerly Focus on the Family Action), the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), Let Freedom Ring, and Liberty Counsel, along with 28 state family policy councils arguing that FFRF lacks standing and that government observances of prayer are not only constitutional but modeled by our forefathers.

In response to Court’s ruling, Kelly Shackelford, President of Liberty Institute, said,

“We applaud the Seventh Circuit’s dismissal of this desperate attempt to erase our country’s rich history of calling for prayer. Sadly, some are determined to censor religious expression in the public arena. As long as Liberty Institute exists and the Constitution is in place, we will do everything in our power to ensure that never happens.”
The Court’s ruling, which strongly rejects FFRF’s opposition to government’s observance of National Day of Prayer, says that being excluded or “hurt feelings differ from legal injury.”

Last year, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the federal government’s observation of prayer was unconstitutional, despite numerous rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that protect long-standing traditions of religious invocations. When Congress passed a statute in 1952 calling for the President to issue a proclamation designating the National Day of Prayer, it memorialized the virtually unbroken tradition of Presidents from Washington to Obama who designated a day of prayer.

“The 7th Circuit’s decision in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama once again affirms what the vast majority of Americans know intuitively: that we should not and indeed cannot separate our nation’s history from the influence of religion on its founders,” said Brad Miller, director of family policy councils for Citizenlink. “Even Americans with a decidedly agnostic view of religion cannot refute the important role religious tradition has played throughout the history of this great nation. The President’s proclamation is simply a continuation of a long and deep tradition of urging and acknowledging prayer as a fundamental part of a healthy society. We applaud this decision and the great work of our allies at the Liberty Institute for their work on behalf of religious freedom.”

This year, National Day of Prayer is set for May 5.

Source: Liberty Institute, April 14, 2011.

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