On National Day of Prayer, lawsuit seeks to abolish National Day of Prayer

May 7, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Today is the National Day of Prayer in a nation that allegedly treasures the separation of church and state.

This incongruence motivated a lawsuit by Freedom From Religion Foundation.  The federal suit was filed while the Bush Administration was in power, but it continues to be pursued today.

Image - DÜRER, Albrecht - Flickr (creative commons)

Image - DÜRER, Albrecht - Flickr (creative commons)

Here’s the problem in a nutshell:

“Exhortations to pray in official Presidential proclamations do not constitute ceremonial deism solemnizing some other occasion,” the Foundation asserts, but “constitute an end in itself intended to promote and endorse religion.”

In an article posted today, FFRF explains further:

“Prayer proclamations not only violate the separation between church and state, but offend reality, by suggesting we can suspend of the natural laws of the universe through wishful thinking,” notes Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The Foundation and the freethought movement have long suggested a National Day of Reason.

“Congress ought to repeal this law and substitute a National Day of Service,” Gaylor added. “That would be constitutional and, equally important, it would be useful! Prayer is a cop-out. If humans want to improve the world, we need to take action, not slavishly beg a supernatural power to do our work for us.”

Freethinkers believe in deeds, not creeds, said Barker. Noted 19th century freethinker/attorney Robert Green Ingersoll famously wrote: “The hands that help are better far than lips that pray.”

Here is a copy of the Complaint filed by FFRF.


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Category: Politics, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Tony Coyle says:

    Bravo, but I think this is bound to fail.

    I had hoped that the Obama Administration would have closed the Office of Faith Based Initiatives – a clear violation of establishment and separation if ever there was one (how many non christians? I'd need to research).

    Instead the office was expanded to The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Woo! It now includes secular stuff too. Why not simply get rid of the 'faith based' entirely. They can still participate – but the direction would needs must be secular rather than religiously partisan as faith based initiatives tend to be.

    So. Not expecting much change in this regard..

  2. Karl says:

    Tax funded activities not under the control of secular/public/politically correct unions still somehow manage to have the ability for the actual values of those who wish to be involved to be expressed.

    No one says an atheist has to pray, but the rest of society MUST hear what the atheists have to say if they wish to attend most universities or hear news from most mainstream media.

    However, even Erich can get his day in a church service.

    Soon we will have unions for the "workers protection" in nearly every industry and activity known man, probably also in specific state recognized religious organizations as well.

    These "secular" unions which espouse neutraility of values, will but continue to deconstruct existing values all the while promoting values they state are for the good of "all Americans." The specific values that don't OFFEND the atheists, or ignore the "proven realities" of materialistic science.

    Maybe unions should actually focus upon the actual values of those they espouse to be serving. Union officials that use mandatory "contributions" designed to further the causes of the union officials is as blatant a power grab as ever existed in any society.

    This is equivalent to "taxation" without representation. These unions reverse the equation to mean, I'm your union and I'm here to tell you what's best for you.

    There are some matters unions will never call for a grass roots vote/opinion from the rank and file, why is this? The rank and file are assumed as usual to not have enough rationality to make these desisions.

    All the while these unions claim to act on behalf of the "workers." When a union has control over both the use of taxpayer funding for their "business" and also control the entire gamut of decesions on behalf of its members, the unions are essentially in charge of nearly all aspects of the business. They become a branch or form of government that exists as a self serving interest group on behalf of the values of the union officials.

    These days there is a huge attempt to turn the entire government into a one big union shop.

    Many claim it "works for me" in places like Universities, Chicago, public schools, state legislatures, activist judiciaries and even community organizations "that are free of religious connotaions."

    Politics sure isn't a value free endeavor and anyone who claims to be a political leader that's only interested in serving the values of a specific group of people should not be elected.

    The problems arise when a specific groups want to change the values and definitions of a society to serve their own purposes and they think they are doing for a "secular" reason.

    In these instances secular is "anti-religious" toward those who should have a right to express their views

    without fear of trying to establish their religion at the expense of the unions or community organizations.

    Rick Warren was railed upon repeatedly, the other pastor who closed the inauguration was given very favorable news coverage, a but biased and awkward in my opnion.

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    A few days ago I read about Obama’s Proclamation on the National Day of Prayer. It had something to annoy everybody; very moderate. He endorsed the proclamation, yet refused to have a prayer breakfast to meet with the rightest of fundamental cases, as did his predecessor.

    But it is also the National Day of Reason, a designation ratified even by unlikely venues, like New Orleans

  4. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl – I'm surprised – How did you get from "National Day of Prayer" to Union-bashing? Somewhat off-topic, no?

    Anyway — I suppose you are simply venting and railing against the pending EFCA. I take from this you are anti-union. I'm not surprised – that fits with your already strong authoritarian credentials.

    Unions are a necessary counterweight to the often monopolistic powers governments have granted to employers. Absent unions (in the mix, not necessarily in the specific company) history demonstrates clearly that workers will be screwed!

    Toyota and other auto makers may be non union – but their workers benefit from the negotiations that UAW have secured. Demonizing unions simply for ideological reasons is dumb. Unions are human organizations, and just as every other human institution they can be well or poorly run. But that is not a reason to be anti-union.

    To correct another mis-statement: secular is not anti-religious, it is a-religious. Absence does not impute antagonism! Just because YOU don't like it does not make it wrong. Just because YOUR perspective is not being promoted as the primary, does not mean you are being silenced or censored. Just. Not. Promoted. (sheesh – want some cheese to go with that whine?)

    Finally: Rick Warren? You tell us that this openly homophobic pastor was railed upon repeatedly and you consider this unfair? Such a bigot should not have a public forum. I believe in free speech – I don't believe in spending tax dollars to promote bigoted viewpoints.

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