COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., — A panel of the U.S. court of appeals overturned a ruling 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 do not have standing to continue their challenge of the 1952 congressional act declaring an annual National Day of Prayer.
According to the appeals court ruling, the proclamation imposes no requirement on a person and therefore no one is hurt by a request that can be declined. “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,” wrote the appeals court’s chief judge Frank Easterbrook, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson, said “I applaud the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty. 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.”
Michael Calhoun, Director of Strategic Communication for the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force added, “This is definitely a victory for the free exercise of religion that our Founding Fathers sought to ensure, and we are thankful for the outcome. I can’t think of a time in recent memory when it has been more important to pray for wisdom and direction for our country and its leaders… I hope millions will join the ongoing efforts of our NDP Task Force to that end.”
The 60th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer will take place on Thursday, May 5th — this year’s theme, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” is based on Psalm 91:2: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Esteemed author and international advocate for people with disabilities, Joni Eareckson Tada will serve as the 2011 Honorary Chairman of the NDP Task Force and will give the keynote address at the national observance in Washington, D.C., to be held at the Cannon House Office Building.
To learn more, or to find a National Day of Prayer event in your community, visit www.NationalDayofPrayer.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States of America, evidenced by the Continental Congress’ proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.
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