The Oregon Faith Report - Faith News from Oregon

Appeals Court rules National Prayer Day unconstitutional

May 20, 2012

By National Day of Prayer,

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, just one week after a record turnout for the National Day of Prayer across the country, when millions gathered from coast to coast to unite in prayer, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the governor’s proclamations of a state Day of Prayer violates the Constitutions’ provisions for religious liberty.

This case began in 2008 against former Governor Bill Ritter by a small group of atheists headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Judge Mullins of the District Court in Denver, Colorado, initially dismissed the case on October 28, 2010, declaring “…there is nothing controversial about a restatement of a right protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution…the proclamation [does] not have the force and effect of law, and even if [it] did, the language does not support the foundation for a state religion, but only an acknowledgment of the rights of the citizenry as recognized as far back as the Declaration of Independence.”

The National Day of Prayer has been deeply rooted in America’s history since 1775. More than 900 public proclamations have been recorded since that time, and 34 of our 44 presidents have made such declarations. In 1952, a bill unanimously passed by Congress was signed into law by President Truman setting aside an annual National Day of Prayer. And, in 1988, legislative steps were taken by Congress and President Reagan to establish the first Thursday of May as the specific day for the observance each year. However, prayer is also deeply rooted in Colorado’s history. In fact, the first proclamation calling on Coloradans to pray was in 1905 when Governor Jesse F. McDonald stated that we should “turn to the Lord in prayer…for His mercies, and for a continuation of our present happy condition in the future; and do earnestly request that, in our homes and houses of worship, we humble ourselves before Him, with gratitude and love in our hearts, and endeavor to cultivate within us the Christ-like spirit.”

With this ongoing assault on the National Day of Prayer, as well as our hard-won religious liberties, we must remain faithful in prayer, and we hope millions will continue to join our NDP Task Force to that end. George Washington, our first President, stated that “It is our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced.” Other presidents and government leaders have echoed these sentiments throughout our country’s history. Prayer is an indispensable part of our heritage, and as citizens, we must not become complacent or grow weary in our commitment to interceding for our nation during this pivotal and challenging time.

We urge that every individual within the great state of Colorado appeal to Governor Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to appeal this decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. Please visit to sign a petition.

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