Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
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Legal

The National Day of Prayer is Constitutional and Still Legal

Victory for Prayer and Religious Freedom! Shirley Dobson and the National Day of Prayer Task Force celebrate victory. After 6 years of working alongside the Alliance Defending Freedom, all attempts by an atheist organization to block our U.S. President and State Governors from calling for prayer have been defeated. Join us in celebrating with a word of Thanksgiving to God Almighty!

On May 10, 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals rendered a decision striking down the gubernatorial prayer proclamations in Colorado. The case was filed November 14, 2008 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. On October 28, 2010, Colorado District Judge R. Michael Mullins dismissed the suit and upheld the constitutionality of Governor Ritter's proclamations. On February 7, 2011, FFRF filed an appeal and on May 10, 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned Judge Mullins decision. After a massive outcry from people across the country – thousands of concerned citizens appealed to Governor Hickenlooper, so on June 21, 2012, an appeal was filed by the Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers. Oral arguments began on May 1, 2014, the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer in La Junta, Colorado. The Colorado Supreme Count rendered a verdict reversing the Colorado Court of Appeals decision on November 24, 2014 in favor of the Day of Prayer. NEWS RELEASE 11-24-2014_Victory for Prayer

Other Victories for National Day of Prayer:
On Thursday, April 14, 2011, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by Judge Barbara Crabb rendered on April 15, 2010 (originally filed on October 8, 2008) that previously found the law requiring the President to proclaim a National Day of Prayer each year as unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, ruled 3-0 that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and its plaintiffs did not have standing to continue their challenge of the 1952 Congressional Act declaring an annual National Day of Prayer. The panel ruled that FFRF did not have standing to sue because the National Day of Prayer had not caused them harm and stated that "a feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury.” FFRF appealed and on June 15, 2011, they were denied an en banc rehearing.

On December 12, 2011, a similar case against Arizona Governor Brewer (originally filed on March 15, 2011) for her signing of NDP proclamations was thrown out of court by Judge Silver, a Federal Judge – stating that “hurt feelings” don’t give someone standing to bring a federal case.

Timeline:

  • October 8, 2008: FFRF Challenges the Presidential Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer – Files Lawsuit

  • November 14, 2008: FFRF Challenges the Governor Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer in Colorado  - Files Lawsuit

  • April 15, 2010: Wisconsin District Judge Barbara Crabb rules the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional

  • April 22, 2010: The U.S. Department of Justice filed a notice to appeal the ruling of Judge Barbara Crabb

  • October 28, 2010: Colorado District Judge R. Michael Mullins dismisses FFRF lawsuit in Colorado ruling in favor of the Colorado Day of Prayer

  • February 7, 2011: FFRF files an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals regarding the decision from District Judge Mullins

  • March 15, 2011: FFRF Challenges the Governor Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer in Arizona – Files Lawsuit

  • April 14, 2011: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Court overturns ruling by Judge Barbara Crabb ruling 3-0 in favor of the National Day of Prayer

  • December 12, 2011: Federal Judge Silver dismisses case against Arizona Governor in favor of the Arizona Day of Prayer

  • May 10, 2012: The Colorado Court of Appeals overturns Judge Mullins decision in favor of FFRF

  • June 21, 2012: Governor Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals decision to the Colorado Supreme Court

  • May 1, 2014: Oral Arguments begin for the Colorado Supreme Court review of the Colorado Day of Prayer

  • November 24, 2014: The Colorado Supreme Court renders verdict reversing the Colorado Court of Appeals decision in favor of the Colorado Day of Prayer


Results: The National Day of Prayer wins the Federal, Arizona and Colorado lawsuits.



Historical Summary:


  • 1775 – The first Continental Congress calls for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting.


  • 1863 – Abraham Lincoln calls for a National Day of Prayer.


  • 1952 – Congress established NDP as an annual event by a joint resolution, signed into law by President Truman (82-324)


  • 1988 – The law was amended and signed by President Reagan, designating the NDP as the first Thursday in May (100-307).


  • 1998 – The law was amended once more adding that the President of the United States is to issue a proclamation on NDP. It was signed by President Bill Clinton (105-225).




Fun Facts:

1) There have been 143 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the President of the United States (1789-2014).

2) There have been 66 Presidential Proclamations for a National Day of Prayer (1952-2014). Gerald R. Ford (1976), George H. Bush (1989-91) and Barack H. Obama (2012) are the only U.S. Presidents to sign multiple National Day of Prayer Proclamations in the same year.

3) Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

4) 34 of the 44 U.S. Presidents have signed proclamations for National Prayer. Three of the Presidents who did not sign a proclamation died while serving in office. Two Presidents, not included in the count – William Howard Taft and Warren Gamaliel Harding, signed proclamations for Thanksgiving and Prayer.

5) Records indicate there have been 1,310 state and federal calls for national prayer since 1775 and counting.

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