Reagan’s Prayer Ritual Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

On Thursday, April 15, 2010, SR U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer Proclamation, instituted by Ronald Reagan in 1988, is unconstitutional. Freedom From Religion Foundation v George W. Bush was filed in Wisconsin in 2008 and has been progressing through the courts since that time. The subsequent ruling in the case was filed as Freedom From Religion Foundation v Barrack Obama & Robert Gibbs to reflect the change in administration after the 2008 elections. Judge Crabb explained her decision by stating that “…[the National Day of Prayer’s] goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgement’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context.” She continued, “In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.”

Although prayer is common among various religious sects, it is not practiced by all and is viewed as offensive by other belief systems and world views. Ronald Reagan’s 1988 Proclamation, #5767, was specific in its religious bias, including a quote from the book of Leviticus in the Christian Bible . Reagan’s proclamation includes the phrase, “I call upon the citizens of our great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity in the hearts of all mankind.” Many feel that the words ‘after his or her own manner’ prove a universal inclusiveness. Within the context of this very Christian and very monotheistic proclamation, this qualification clearly refers to differing Christian denominations and perhaps other Abrahamic or messianic religions. This deliberately narrow focus within a pluralistic society reflects the exclusivity of the governments endorsement of a religious ritual to the exclusion of all other religions, belief systems and world views. Therefore, under the First Amendment, as ruled by Judge Crabb, the National Day of Prayer contravenes the Constitution.

The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The establishment of not only a theistic or monotheistic day of prayer, but of a specifically Christian National Day of Prayer is a flagrant violation. The constitutional guarantees to all Americans are subverted when privilege is claimed by, or extended to, an exclusive group. Neither the joint resolution by congress in 1952 nor the subsequent 1988 proclamation by Ronald Reagan were constitutionally sound in either their intent or application. Judge Crabb’s decision effectively corrected a fifty eight year old error.

While greeted with overwhelming support from members of other religious and nonreligious communities, this judgement against state sponsored religious rituals has created a firestorm of condemnation from the Christian community who view this judgement as a direct attack on their religion and their personal freedom of religious expression. Immediately following the announcement of the decision, internet blogs and forums began registering the discontent of disgruntled Christians, convinced that they are being deliberately persecuted by what they characterize as an evil and Un-American government.

Fox News picked up the gauntlet of piety and immediately had Judge Crabb declared unequivocally wrong. Their purported expert in constitutional law, Kelly Saindon, offered poorly constructed arguments that attempt to redefine the National Day of Prayer as a day “that allows for people to say, that if you have religious beliefs, today is the day, go ahead and recognize those”. Ms. Saindon’s apparent argument for government rationing of religion seems to propose that if the government doesn’t proclaim an official day for the exercise of this particular ritual, it is tantamount to refusing individuals their right to perform this ritual on their own or with others who share their belief.

Not only does this reaction reflect a misunderstanding of the Constitution, but it also demonstrates the continued willingness to reject and subvert principles of equality. This ruling does nothing to limit or curtail any religious freedoms whatsoever. The ruling simply states that there is to be no government sponsorship or endorsement of this particular religious ritual. The Judges ruling does not ban prayer. The judges ruling does not say that Christians are not allowed to pray on that day, or any other. The Judges ruling does not say that every Christians in America cannot agree to pray in concert on that day. The ruling simply removes the unconstitutionally preferred status of one religion over others by official government proclamation in order to protect the equal freedoms and liberties of all.

Judge Crabb’s ruling respects all religions, belief systems and world views by ending State sponsorship of a Christian ritual. The only message to be inferred by Christians is that they have all the same rights and privileges of all other religions and belief systems and are fortunate enough to live in a country where that principle is upheld in the courts. Judge Crabb included in her decision “..that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.” Christians have not had their rights limited, violated, curtailed, impeached or denied.

Crabb stipulated that her decision should not yet be considered a ban to any ‘prayer days’ until the appeals process has been fully exhausted. According to Charles Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department, attorneys who represented the federal government in this case were reviewing the ruling Thursday afternoon. Mr. Miller declined further comment.

White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich stated in an e-mail to The Associated Press that President Obama still plans to issue a proclamation for the next prayer day. “As he did last year, President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer,” Lehrich said. So, despite the judges ruling, Christians can take comfort in the knowledge that due process of the law will be fully applied and honored in order to maintain the integrity of the system, the veracity of the final ruling, and the adherence to the constitution.

The freedoms enshrined in the constitution have once again been affirmed in the face of a challenge. Christians should celebrate this as a victory along with the rest of the country. In this case, it was Christian privilege that was corrected in order to assure the ongoing freedom and equality of all, but it is the principle that an imbalance favoring any exclusive group will not be tolerated that should provide them with security, solace, and a real reason to rejoice.


94 Responses to Reagan’s Prayer Ritual Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

  1. James April 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I always thought that this practice of the American right was an unconstitutional intrusion of religion into the mechanisms of the state. These same Bible-bangers would be protesting if pagans wanted to drum and chant, but their prayers to a regional war deity are always acceptable. The thing is, other more human rights-respecting people find appropriate ways to share their values, rather than always try to force them on others.

    • Ole Ole Olson April 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      Editor’s note – There was a homophobic reply to this comment which we will never tolerate on this discussion board, and has thus been deleted.

  2. Robert April 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I do not agree with your article whether it by fact or opinion. First you need to do better research regrading the National Day of Prayer. It was enacted in 1952 public law 82-354. It has been going on now for 58 years, this to be 59. Why has it not bothered anyone for 50 plus years but not it does? Just like every other Godly principle that the nation was founded on and anything to do with Christian freedoms must be stopped! Am I right? I believe all should have equal opportunity and a free will to choose and do as they please.

    • Mark April 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      Robert, it’s not your Christian freedom that’s being removed, it’s the implied privilege of specifically Christians that’s being removed. And please note that our country was not founded upon Christianity as the Treaty of Tripoli states (George Washington and all members of congress signed it): “…America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

      • Imam Salim Chishti April 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

        Prayer is for all, if you don’t like then don’t do it.

      • Chris April 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

        And the Treaty of Paris (negotiated by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams) starts with: “In the Name of the most holy and undivided Trinity…”

        The particular line in the Treaty of Tripoli that’s quoted so often was written to prevent discord between Christians and Muslims.

        Not saying it doesn’t change the fact that the founding fathers wanted the nation to be a “christian nation,” just pointing out that many of them were in favor of religion, and were religious men themselves.

        And for the record, I am a devout christian and I couldn’t care less whether there’s a national prayer day or not. I can and will pray when I feel like it, and I don’t need acknowledgment of it.

        Until the day the government tells me I can’t pray somewhere, or at a certain time, there’s no need for alarm. The problem is that the government constantly pushes it’s power. When our government consists of mainly the religious right, the government tries to impose religious beliefs on everyone. When our government consists of the non-religious left, they fight to eliminate religion altogether.

        • Rob April 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

          The non-religious left just wants religion out of government. It’s terribly stupid to govern a country on religion. Religion does not use logic, and is open to the opinion of the interpreter. TERRIBLE way to run a country.

          How many times have you seen congressmen say “We need to ban religion in America!” vs. republican congressmen giving speeches at mega churches about how America needs to be a more Christian nation. You might think we want religion banned, but we really just want you to stop setting our laws around it and stop bothering us with it.

        • Ruth Walker April 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

          The Treaty of Paris was in 1778 before the Bill of Rights in 1791. It is amazing how many people quote happenings from before the Constitution as evidence that government is not supposed to be civil only.

          Please read what Judge Crabb wrote. I don’t think you will find it offensive and it makes perfect sense.

          The first law requiring the president to declare a national day of prayer was bad, but Reagan made it worse. It was even stated that a specific date was set for it to facilitate religion!

        • khayman34 April 20, 2010 at 2:16 am

          um well actually the founders did not intend for this to be a christian nation. they were by and far deists meaning that while they believed in say a god they believed that god had more important things to do than to bother with what’s going on in our little insignificant lives. In other words god formed the universe and the laws of physics etc. and set things in motion and then took a non interventionist stance.

          We know that Franklin was an athiest. His own private writings attest to that. We are fairly certain that Jefferson was as well. Madison most certainly was a closet athiest. to quote jefferson ” a professorship of theology should have no place in our institution.” I really wish people would stop picking and choosing what they wish to believe was the motivation of the founding the fathers. taking what fits their thinking a dropping the rest because it doesn’t ‘fit’. I mean madison said at the second constitutional congress that “the primary responsibility of government is to protect the minority of the oppulent from the majority.” Furthermore john jay said that, “Those who own the country should run the country”. the point I’m making is this, we pick and choose what we want to fit the ideas or memes we wish to construct about the founding of our country. It is doubtful you will any of the previous two quotes in any history textbook because they sound elitist and nonpluralistic and thus don’t fit into myth of the founding of our country but lest you forget this country was founded by a small group of rich, white,male, landowning, slave-owning elites who wanted to ensure the continuance of their elite status.

    • Imam Salim Chishti April 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm

      Yes I agree with Robert. In fact I have now looked at other Liam Fox articles and I can only come to the conclusion that he is an anti-religious bigot. For my part, as a practicing Muslim I have never felt that this was strictly a Christian thing. I have celebrated it also year after year. Actually I also know of several interfaith groups who pray together on that day. And I would be happy to know of pagan or other groups that pray on that day too. My only sadness is that the citizens of this country need a special day to pray, we should be praying every day.

      • Ruth Walker April 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

        Read what Judge Crabb wrote. There were complaints by Jewish groups a few years ago because of the way the Christian right took over the White House celebration.

      • carl April 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm

        You stupid muslim fool.. shut your mouth! you dont deserve to even speak about the christian faith you terrorist lovin’, turban wearing jihadi!

        • Stan April 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

          I agree with carl! you islami terrorist prick! you dont know squat about what praying is with your mosows and your stupid outfits! go strap a bomb and blow yerself up you islami radical!

        • Chris April 25, 2010 at 8:28 am

          Well at least we know that Carl and Stan are far greater anti-religious bigots than anyone else on this thread. I’m a devout Christian, and I would choose Imam as a friend any day over either of you imbeciles. Just goes to show that intelligence doesn’t necessarily correlate with choice of religion.

    • Ole Ole Olson April 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      More founding fathers were atheistic or at least secular than were Christian Robert. Check out Thomas Jefferson’s translation of the bible for instance, which is a completely secular rewrite. This is a nation build on the foundation of separating church and state, and regardless of public opinion, this must be respected.

      This prayer has bothered non-religious folks since it’s inception, but atheists just don’t have organized mass campaigns with the tenacity of zealots to get rid of it. Atheists tend to be reasonable folks who think with their brains, not some emotion implanted by a father figure. No offense.

      • Clint April 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

        Alright, as an atheist who thinks with his brain, hows about you list a source for this quote “More founding fathers were atheistic or at least secular than were Christian Robert.” Because I’m pretty sure you pulled it out of thin air.

        Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were the two most notable Non-christian founding fathers, and that was because they were deists, not atheists. Furthermore, if most of the founding fathers were atheists, how did the phrase “endowed by their Creator” end up in the Constitution? Oh, and where does “separating church and state” show up in the Constitution?

        • Jacques April 19, 2010 at 10:20 am

          “Endowed by their Creator” is not in the constitution. That’s from the Deceleration of Independence. Among other things it’s also no “self-evident” but whatever.

          The Separation of Church and State is just the phrase used to describe the intent of the first amendment. Combining the free exercise clause and the non-establishment clause means that State and Religion(church) are separated “by a wall” as Jefferson put it when explaining the First Amendment. The Phrase itself is not in the constitution, but then neither is the word “democracy” and no one would claim the constitution was setting up a system of government other than a democratic one And before anyone starts Republic is the form, democratic the means, and republic already implies democracy in a legal sense.

        • Nick April 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

          Funny you should mention pulling things out of thin air. The phrase “Endowed by their Creator” or any variation of it does not appear anywhere in the US constitution. The document itself is notable for the absence of any references to any deity as the basis for its government’s authority, which was unusual for a Western nation at the time. Attempts to insert such language by various states and parties were consistently voted down.

          As it is, the document makes only two references to religion, the well-known establishment clause, and in Article VI where it states “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

        • Zack April 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

          I wouldn’t try to go through each founding father, although regarding the “endowed by their Creator” bit, the original line was “from that equal creation”. Jefferson’s original draft had no mention of the Creator, it was added later for reasons people have written thesis over, but the simplest would likely be that they wished to keep with the form of such documents of the time.

          Separation of church and state, as a phrase, does not appear in the constitution, but later in a correspondence between Jefferson and a friend. However, he wrote the line in elaboration to the first amendment (he outright says so). So it is not in the constitution verbatim, but it is conceptually within the first amendment.

          • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

            Thanks for correcting me, I thought I might have had that wrong.

            Jefferson did not believe that religion and government should be separated, but rather that the government not intrude on the right to practice religion. In fact, he believed it necessary to understand our liberties came from God. “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” -Thomas Jefferson; Notes on the State of Virginia

            The fact of the matter is that this proclamation does not violate the first amendment at all. It does not establish a religion, nor does it prohibit any free exercise of religion. The first amendment does not state that there has to be a total absence of religion in government at all.

            • Zack April 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

              I fear this is turning into mincing of words, but the exact quote of the amendment refers to “respecting an establishment OF religion.” In modern terms, I’ve always read it as “regarding a religious group.” The way yours read implies that the first amendment only forbids establishing a state religion, whereas mine forbids any laws regarding or referencing specific religions. I realize it’s a small word, but it’s an important one, and the interpretation is clearly one that has gone back and forth over the years.

              • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

                If we keep this up much longer, I’m only going to be able to fit one word per line. Seeing how many founding fathers saw our liberties as coming from God or Creator, and how for our government to survive, we needed to remember that, I doubt the intention was to completely and totally separate the two in any fashion. Besides, its prayer day, not christian prayer day, or muslim prayer day. Even if we use your definition, its a religious act, not a religious group.

        • Ruth Walker April 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

          Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence “nature and nature’s God” not a Judeo-Christian one.

          He was very interested in science. I don’t believe, if he lived today, he would ignore the science of the last 200 years. He’d be an atheist (although a deist isn’t much different).

          Jefferson didn’t even declare a thanksgiving day. Madison did, but later regretted it. He said that mixing government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.

          • khayman34 April 20, 2010 at 2:30 am

            well i agree with you mostly. Jefferson was a deist but deist do believe in a god just a not interventionist one. I myself am not only an athiest but also an anti-theist. I have no doubt that if the founding fathers were around today though they would all be athiests. It just makes sense.

            as an athiest i do not believe in the liklihood of there being a god. it’s possible but there is no quantitative proof. That’s a big difference from a deist who believes in a supernatural being. I take things several steps further though and i do not use any supernatural explanation to explain a natural phenomona. I use reason and logic to view the world; a very much scientific approach. As such if i were confronted with proof of a god’s existence i could be presuaded i just think that the liklihood of that is almost nil or to be more precise less than a one percent chance or i’m 99% sure that there is no god or other supernatural type force out there intervening in our day to day lives.

    • blackHat April 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Nobody is stepping on your Christian freedoms, Robert. Nothing has changed in that regard.

      It baffles me at times how so many Christians seem to endorse the idea of Christianity as a state religion, or believe that somehow it used to be, and that ‘liberals’ are now trying to dismantle it.

      The separation of church and state exists specifically to protect the rights of the faithful to practice their faith. When the American colonies were established, most established almost immediately a state church–such as in the Massachusetts Bay colony, where the puritans saw fit to relentlessly persecute those of other Christian denominations, or when the governor of New Netherland imposed the Dutch Reformed Church on his colony, and expressly banned the practice of all other faiths. Both Jefferson and Madison advocated a “wall of separation” between church and state because of numerous instances in which members of one denomination purposely disenfranchised others (in Maryland it was the Church of England barring Catholics from public office or land ownership). Codifying that government should refrain from endorsing a particular religion, or denomination thereof, is a way of preventing any one group from dominating over others.

      However, as in any situation where an aspect of society is deliberately left uncontrolled, a power vacuum forms, and the people vying hardest to occupy that vacuum are almost never the sort of people you would want controlling anything. They are the people with a will to power, a desire to dominate, and any free society does well to remain vigilant against these people usurping that power.

      During the 1950s, due to reactionary sentiment (to supposedly ‘godless Communism’, as well as the burgeoning civil rights movement) there was strong conservative Christian sentiment geared at branding the US as a Christian nation (‘In God We Trust’ was made the official national motto in 1956, and its use on money mandated, despite the previous objections of Roosevelt, who thought it nearly akin to sacrilege).

      But it was during the Reagan years that religious figures like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson saw their chance to make some good-sized holes in the ‘wall of separation’. Reagan’s presidency marked the beginning of the Republican Party’s alliance with the religious Right, drawing what was essentially a line in the sand for religious people; the GOP became the de-facto ‘party of God’, polarizing the country.

      Personally, i don’t have a problem with the National Day of Prayer. What i *do* have a problem with are people who can’t seem to be content with enjoying their liberties; for whom having the right to practice their religion is not enough; they feel a need to dominate–to tip the scales in their favour, and to marginalise or condescend toward anyone who believes differently. When i hear Christians complain about being ‘persecuted’, i can’t help but be incredulous. Christians are by far the dominant religious group in the United States. For the court to declare deliberate favouritism toward one religion over others unconstitutional is not an impingement on Christians’ rights, it’s simply a statement of fact.

  3. Matt April 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Robert: The court ruling discussed above does not impact your equal opportunity and free will to choose and do as you please.

  4. Imam Salim Chishti April 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Obama should delare it anyway, what are they going to do? Arrest him?

  5. Brad April 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I’m not aware of anyone ever being coerced or required to pray on the National Day of Prayer.

    • Cody April 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

      I wasn’t aware that the only time you could pray was when the government told you it was OK.

  6. Silverwolf April 18, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    God bless Judge Crabb for this wonderful ruling, re-instating separation of church and state, or at least trying to. This heinous attempt to overthrow our wise Jefferson’s exhortation to “erect a wall of separation between church and state” has been defeated thanks to Judge Crabb’s objectivity and deep respect for the Bill of Rights. Libertarians salute her, not only for protecting the rights of theists, but atheists, and agnostics too. American Libertarians don’t care what you believe or do, as long as you obey Constitutional laws, and respect the Bill of Rights, and Natural Law property rights. And the Right Not to Pray, as well as the Right not to be taxed to have to subsidize other people’s prayer, are inalienable property rights, which this wise ruling preserves..

    But this declaration of a day of National Prayer is also a rip-off of our tax money, which we are coerced to pay. The President should not be wasting one minute of his time on this blasphemy that dirties our Constitution and Bill of Rights, especially while the taxpayer is paying him such a huge sum. His only function should be to preserve personal Liberty. One wonders how a supposed “Constitutional Scholar” like the President could possible continue perpetrating this blot on our Constitution.

    Libertarian kudos to Judge Crabb. We declare her one of the Mothers of Liberty. — Silverwolf

    • shane April 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

      yep isnt it just the best when some radical unelected judge overturns laws that where created by the elected representatives of the people!

      • Zenlite April 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm

        As it turns out, that is *exactly* what the job of the judiciary is, so yes it’s very much the best.

        Legislation establishes the Law.
        The Judiciary interprets the Law.
        The Executive carries out the Law in accordance with the interpretation.

        • shane April 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

          yep like i said 1 person interprets the law the way he wants, so yes my comment still stands if this person “interpreted” it the other way youd be complaining about it too

      • khayman34 April 20, 2010 at 2:42 am

        um that’s their job silly goose. the legislative branch makes the laws. the executive branch enforces those laws. Finally the judicial branch…wait for it…interprets the laws. wow imagine that she’s(judge crabb) doing her job. just because congress or some state legislature makes a law doesn’t mean it’s constitutional. It’s the job of the courts to look at laws that have been passed, when they have been brought to the attention of the court through either criminal proceedings or torts and determine if they fit within the constitution. just because a judge overturns a law that you don’t like doesn’t make them “activist” it just means that they are doing their job. they don’t always get it right ie jim crow laws, campaign contributions etc but that’s why we have checks and balances. granted i think the legislative branch gets corrected more often than the judicial. and just think all this strife, anger and frustration would just melt away if we just evovled to the next level of human existence and that’s what i call a post-theistic society. which by the way is the only way to ensure the continued survival of the human race.

        • khayman34 April 20, 2010 at 2:48 am

          on a personal note. while i’ve been deeply saddened and upset by the supreme courts recent decision overturning campaign finance reform laws and would like to see campaigns that aren’t corporate interest dominated i cannot find any way that the court could have ruled any other way. i hate to say that but that’s the way the laws over the last 150 years have been written starting with the 14th amendment. there was one way i think the court could have ruled but it’s really grasping at straws and that’s to say that the greater good is served by restricting the speech of corporate interests. again though that’s a hard sell when dealing with such a broad topic.

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  8. Nathan April 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Its a holiday. It is not being forced upon you. You don’t have to celebrate it if you choose. It supposed to be a day to celebrate religious freedom no matter what your practice is or is not. Our society needs to cease turning good gestures into bad horrible things. Stop looking at the world through negative eyes already.

    • Zack April 19, 2010 at 10:10 am

      The idea however, that there is a government endorsed holiday that appears (it doesn’t have to actually, appearing to is all it takes) to display favoritism towards a specific or group of religions, violates the clause in the first amendment mentioned in the article. It’s not about whether you celebrate it or not, it’s mere existence as a government sanctioned holiday is what matters.

      I wouldn’t even call it negative eyes really, the courts saw it as a violation and that’s that. Besides, it’s not the government’s place to tell me when I should pray, they aren’t even remotely the leaders of my faith.

      • Iz April 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

        Seriously, shouldn’t the government be working on things that are more important like turning around the financial state of our country, instead of spending money on silly legalities in the court system. They should be putting that money into our schools so one they can actually stay open & two our children can receive a good education.

        What really needs to happen is separation of religion & God. God doesn’t care about religion. Religion is just rituals that man made up. God is all about having a relationship with us. I Love God & I will prayer everyday where ever I want. Maybe it will be around a flag pole, in a court house, in a jail, in a sewer in the hood. All I know is that prayer works & nobody will tell me when I can & can’t do it.

    • Sean April 19, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Would you have the same opinion if the government sponsered a ‘Do Drugs’ holiday in the celebration of expressive openness and freedom? (or an alcoholic drinking day if you prefer something that isn’t illegal) If not then what is the difference between that and prayer day?

      • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

        Drugs are illegal, alcohol is illegal for certain ages, and both are done when focusing on the self.

        Prayer is a request to a higher power to bless and protect ourselves and others. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. It’s sensitive people like you that make things so complicated and annoying.

        • Cody April 19, 2010 at 11:17 am

          So then just pray, why do you need the government to tell the people when to pray?

          Not everyone chooses to pray or to respect whatever God du jour, don’t force the concept on everyone.

          • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

            Did the Men in Black come to your door and ask you if you prayed last year? Did anyone ask you? Did you even know on National Prayer Day that it was National Prayer Day? I highly doubt it. So hows about you chill out?

            • Rob April 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

              Then if it no big deal about a national holiday for prayer, then why get upset over it. You can pray everyday. I don’t need it forced on me even one day.

    • Matt April 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

      “It is not being forced upon you.”

      Nobody said it was being forced upon us. What we, and Judge Crabb, are saying is that the government is NOT ALLOWED TO DO THIS. You may not think it’s that bad, but just because it’s “not that bad” does not mean the government can go ahead and do it. The First Amendment prohibits this activity, and so the government cannot do it.

    • tubs April 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      it’s not a day to celebrate religious freedom, it’s a day to celebrate prayer. not all religions have prayer and some people don’t even have a “religion”. it’s the fact that the government is endorsing and calling for a religious practice from its people that is the problem. government should have nothing to do with religion except to protect the freedoms of those practicing it.

  9. edwords April 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Great decision, Judge Crabb!

    If you want a Day of Prayer every week, that’s fine.

    But the churches should organize it and the govt, stay out!

  10. edwords April 19, 2010 at 9:43 am

    The world is in the (rotten) shape it’s in because of religion.

    The God fanatics are screwing up one country after another.

    (USA-Iraq-Northern Ireland- Afghanistan-India-Pakistan ———-
    —————————— etc. etc.)

    • RadXCor April 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

      You’re a fool if you actually believe religion is the cause of the world’s ills. If religion didn’t exist mankind would find something else to war over. The extremists will always use the excuse of religion to fuel their greed and hate. That’s all it is, an excuse.

      • Zack April 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

        I agree that they would certainly find another reason to do it. Violent power hungry people will be who they are regardless of religious affiliations. However, it doesn’t help that they have the ultimate divine excuse.

        And to be fair, I doubt that Catholic Europe would have been quite so hell bent on conquering Jerusalem if it weren’t a religious symbol during the Crusades.

        • shane April 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

          Yeah because life was sooo great and peaceful in the atheist soviet union! All those athiests just lived in perfect harmony! if only the entire world was like the USSR!

          And also a little research about the crusades beyond hollywood and “the kingdom of heaven” will reveal that the entire middle east and north africa were christian just a few centuries before the crusades. The Christians were killed or force converted to Islam and it wasnt until Jerusalem was closed to Christian pilgrims that the crusades were called. Also it didnt hurt that the pope figured it would keep europeans from fighting with each other

          • Zack April 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

            Again, I agreed with you on your core principle that people fight, and will find excuses to fight when they don’t have religion.

            Perhaps a more appropriate example would be the people of what was once the subcontinent of India, inhabited by two groups of people who’s primary differences stemmed from religion, splitting the region into the two modern day nations of Pakistan and India. Beyond religion the two groups were effectively one, but their religious differences have fueled violence for decades since.

            • shane April 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

              true religion is an excuse alot of the times to fight but ideology- communism vs democracy, race(sudan, germany) and greed are all also causes for violence, people just focus on religion simply out of hate for religion.

          • blackHat April 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

            Nice straw man there, shane.

            Not everybody in the USSR was atheist. The government tried to push the idea that loyalty to country was more important than loyalty to god, but you can’t legislate belief, and most people who were religious beforehand simply remained religious.

            My point is that force-feeding theism or atheism doesn’t work the was proponents of any theocracy seem to believe it should. You’re dealing in extremes and creating a false dilemma: either Christian nation or ‘atheist state’ (e.g. USSR).

    • R Phillips April 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      No. The world is in such rotten shape because it has discarded Gospel teaching in favor of “personal liberty” to do as we wish.

      Why do you think that there is such division in our nation now as opposed to say, fifty years ago? We have continued to marginalize God to the point where we feel we either don’t believe or don’t need Him anymore. We are now reaping the rewards.

      As others have said, I don’t need Reagan, Obama or anyone else to tell me when to pray but we ALL need to pray and repent before it’s too late.

      Christian and proud of it. Flame on.

  11. Ray April 19, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I wonder how many of the people who got upset over this ruling disliked government’s interference in Wall Street’s business or the takeover of the GM? or any other governmental action? You are either against the governments meddling with your lives or for it. Don’t pick and choose. Our government has no business telling us who to pray to and when to do it.

  12. Sean April 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Where is my ‘Worship idols’ or ‘fasting’ day? Why not have a ‘do drugs’ day? I mean.. not everyone has to participate right?

  13. Skip April 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Once again, no logical consistency – just whatever will goad the right. If you want that bright-line separation between “church” and “state” there should be no more government recognition of Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving (we don’t do it to thank each other) and their attendant paid employee holidays. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that lawsuit if I were you.

    • Zack April 19, 2010 at 10:57 am

      I do enjoy consistency, and you are correct that, using the logic the judge used regarding the day of prayer, Christmas and Thanksgiving should also not be federally recognized. Easter for whatever reason isn’t, but it’s irrelevant anyway.

      The logical consistency you mention currently does not exist regarding these quasi-religious holidays (it can be argued that Christmas especially has become something beyond a christian holiday, for example). However, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t. I’ve never agreed with federal recognition of any of the religious holidays personally, but at the same time it doesn’t really bother me. If the judges find the time to review them they’ll probably come to the same conclusion, but I can’t imagine it’s high up on their priorities.

      And let’s be realistic, a “Day of Prayer” clearly has religion in mind, the judge isn’t ruling it unconstitutional to goad the right, she’s ruling it unconstitutional because it is.

      • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

        It’s not unconstitutional. It doesn’t establish any particular religion, it doesn’t establish anything other than a recognition that some Americans like to pray. It does not prohibit anyone from doing anything religious or not doing anything religious. It is in no way shape or form unconstitutional.

        • Zack April 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

          I see we’re effectively now having the same conversation twice. My response to you further up I think touches upon why we’re reading this differently in both lines of thought.

    • Matt April 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

      Wait, Thanksgiving? What’s the religious aspect? It was about Native Americans and Puritans hanging out.

  14. Brian April 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I don’t know about everyone else, but from what the ruling is it can be both positive and negative aspects to this. But from what I believe, I don’t need a day that has to be recognized just to pray, just because for the people who do pray everyday, I give them credit to be that dedicated to pray everyday for someone they love, cared, or in hope of. But if we look throughout history most delegate’s have warned us about the idea of church and state being one as being a negative problem. But as for me I’m saddened by it, but it’s not going to stop me from praying when I feel like it.

  15. Louise Dotter April 19, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Constitutional realities aside – WHY do christians even want a National Day of Prayer? Their own scripture states:

    Mark Chapter 6 vs5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

    If the christians persist in demanding public prayer they should let the rest of us know if they self identify as “hypocrite” or “heathen” so that we may be PC in addressing them.

    • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:17 am

      Lets face it. Most everyone isn’t PC when talking about Christians anyway, so its not like you really care.

      The point of that passage is that our intentions are in the right place. We pray in church in front of other people, not that they can applaud or think highly of us, but so that we can all be involved in that prayer together, so God knows it’s from all of us. A national day of prayer is just that, but on a larger scale.

      Call us whatever you like. It’s not like we haven’t heard everything already.

      • Cody April 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

        Whatever, you’re the ones that will have to answer to your hypocrisy anyway.

        • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:24 am

          Exactly. And since you have so wisely pointed out that I’ll have to answer to someone else, how about you leave me to that instead of trying to take His place?

  16. Matt April 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Right, because everything was so totally peachy until recently. It’s not like there were constant wars, religious genocides, slavery, or anything else until recently. Everything bad is because we don’t pray enough!

  17. Zack April 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Clint: Picking up from that terribly indented mess up above;

    Regardless of the personal beliefs of the creators of the document, they could have easily made such religious affiliations more apparent. In the end however they chose to go with the wording they did, which leads to the question of why? Why go to such lengths to word it in such a… secular way, if it was meant to carry religious tones?

    Disregarding WHO wrote those words, and looking at the document as only itself, the wording has always led me to believe that government was to keep it’s nose out of religious business.

    And as for the prayer being a part of everyone’s faith, you are assuming everyone is a deist. Now especially, deism is in fact a religious group, albeit a large one (of effectively all monotheists and polytheists). It is however, still a group, as it excludes atheists.

    • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Fine, for all the Atheists out there, we’ll name it the National “Think Good Thoughts, But Only If You Want To. Its Not Like We Are Forcing You To Do Anything, But People Are Still Managing To Get Pissed Off” Day. Political correctness strikes again.

      I mean, we really don’t have to have it at all. But is it really THAT big a deal?

      • Zack April 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

        Again, it isn’t about what you’re being forced to do, it’s government recognition of a select, albeit broad group of people. Government favoritism should be avoided.

        You’re right, It really isn’t that big of a deal, I mentioned earlier I couldn’t care less. It’s probably why it took so long to get overturned honestly. Enough people took it personally enough to move it through the court systems. Happens all the time on both sides of an issue. You and I don’t really get why it matters so much to some others, but it’s their right if they think it’s so important, especially when it technically DOES breach legal issues.

        Bottom line is that hardly anything has changed, I try not to sweat the small stuff. I’ve enjoyed our conversations but it’s time to get some work done.

  18. location404 April 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

    If you’re going to allow for government endorsed or recognized religious activities, then don’t be complaining when one of our presidents proposes a “national bow towards mecca day”. It carries a different tone when its not your own religion now doesn’t it. Some would be upset, some wouldn’t care, but why not just observe your religious practices in private. Why do you need government recognition? Nobody’s saying you can’t pray, we’re just keeping religion out of government, its good practice. As I heard someone else say, they should replace national day of pray with national day of community service.

    • Clint April 19, 2010 at 11:44 am

      But what about people who hate/fear/dislike community service? They might be offended. You have to be tolerant.

      • Japanco April 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

        The constitution doesn’t guarantee the right not to be offended. This ruling was not about tolerance. The government should not be calling people to pray, or bow to Mecca, or sacrifice a chicken, or to perform any other action that is religion-related. That’s the width and breadth of this issue.

        You are, of course, free to pray as you will.

  19. Chris April 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Good job Judge Crabb! All free-thinkers should speak up and be heard.

    If only everyone would employ basic logic and skepticism, and not be scared to talk about it, dogma could become a part of our history and naturally remove itself from the mainstream of our culture.

    Children could actually receive the honest answers to the difficult questions in life.

  20. SelfControl April 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    The world is in the terrible state it is in because of man’s inability to ignore his compulsions and his lack of objectivity when it comes to his fellow man’s beliefs.

  21. Rainer Maria Rilke April 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Why follow a religion with all of its inconsistencies and human manipulation? You shouldn’t. It is 2010 and none of the popular religions can even begin to serve as a useful algorithm with regard to moral decisions we routinely face (much less can these religions aid in the world of epistemology and they blatantly fail in the world of cosmology).

    As far as morality goes, it may truly be as simple as The Beatles put it: “All you need is love.” Yet this is no simple task and everyone must reconcile the value of other’s wellbeing and happiness within the context of their own ambition.

    “For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”

  22. Chad April 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    “THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    –Martin Niemoller

    As we all know, the phrase “wall of separation” appears nowhere in the Constitution. And as we are also aware, Jefferson assured the Danbury Baptists that it wasn’t governments place to interfere in religion. I’m sure Judge Crabb had nothing but the best of intentions, but as is also said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The “wall” that was erected to protect our religious liberty is now being used to erode that libery. And all in the name of constitutional correctness.

    “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”

    –Padme Amidala, “Revenge of the Sith”

    • Chris April 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Haha, you think “THEY ARE COMING for you” at the moment?

      This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. What slippery slope are we on by actually upholding rules that make sense?

    • tubs April 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      how is your liberty being eroded? what the hell are u talking about? no one can EVER stop you from praying, not EVER. so what exactly are u talking about? no one is telling you what to do or when to do it. it’s kinda like when we were children and told to keep our hands to ourselves, unless someone wanted to be touched; keep your religion to yourselves, unless we’re asking for it. the gov’t is not a body of spreading religious belief, it is a governing body and therefore should be concerned with governing, not the individuals private and personal beliefs.

  23. Bill April 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    What shape are you talking about? No witch burnings or flagelants walking from town to town beating themselves and each other because they believe this will encourage God to stop an epidemic? No more armies of Christians marching into Asia and Africa to murder any Jew or Muslim who refuses to convert (some may debate this one)? The polio vaccine? Penicillin? Telephones? Oh, you mean the murder, theft, brutality, promiscuity? There were no sins or crimes yesterday or the day before that, etc.? Yeah, no wonder.

  24. tubs April 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    who cares what the forefathers intended. obviously they couldn’t make up their minds and were trying to appease so many people with treaties and such. we live in the 21st century and maybe some laws need changing? maybe it needs to be made clear that religion should be kept out of govt completely (except for individual practice). it doesn’t make sense to govern a “free” country using one religion or another. everyone should have their voice in government and the government should not favor one religion over another. the government should favor the moving forward of our country, the financial security of our country, and peace for all no matter what we believe. religion is something personal and private, you wanna share it, do it on your own time with your own money. the government should be concerned with the whole country, let the churches and the individual be concerned with religion.

  25. Jacques April 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    In god we trust is a relatively recent development. Although some coins did have it from the 19th century, not federal notes did until the 1950s. Indeed, it was only at that time that it was made obligatory, and that was done, like with the insertion of the “under god” in the pledge of allegiance (also done in the 1950s), because certain forces in America who equated atheism with communism wanted to reinforce the notion that this country is for theists only.

    Most of the founding fathers expressed belief in god. Many of them were Christian, and some deists. But it should also be remembered that 1) publicly expressing disbelief in god would have been political suicide in the 18th century, just as it is today. and 2) it’s not the 18th century anymore, atheist represent a much larger proportion of America now then they did then, and law is law. Either it is unconstitutional for government to endorse god or it isn’t. The claim of theists is that the constitution merely prohibit government from favoring one branch of theism over another (theists do need protection from each other), but not theism in general against atheism. This may be true, but it amounts to saying: If you are an atheist screw you, it’s our country not yours, the government doesn’t represent you, you are a minority and always will be.

  26. Holy Rite April 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    What hypocrisy. Doesn’t it bother anyone else that this type of ruling is geared toward removing Christianity from America under the guise of separation of ‘church and state.’ Which CHURCH? I can think of only one tribe that despises Jesus the Christ…. jews. Any coincidence that it is OK for obama to put up menorahs all over the Whitehouse grounds but it is ILLEGAL to put up a f@#$#@%n’ Christmas tree?

    • Jewish April 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Jews don’t despise Jesus you ignoramous. JESUS WAS JEWISH. One of the only main differences between Judaism and Christianity, besides the fact that Christians shifted to the New Testament, is that Christians believe Jesus is the mesiah and Jews don’t believe he has been born yet. Oh, and when Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House it wasn’t for religious reasons at all, it was for environmental ones.

  27. Tyler April 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Ok now we can rule Christmas and Easter unconstitutional. It is the exact same thing a Christian holiday in which Christians worship Christ and others can choose to just hand out gifts or hunt Easter eggs or not participate at all. So why not just ban them and we won’t get the work days off and we won’t be spending time with our families but it’s ok in the name of religious freedom/freedom from religion. Just some thoughts from a Christian that would pray to his lord and savior even if it resulted in death. Thank you.

    • tubs April 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

      no one is stopping you from praying…by all means go and be public and pray, no one gives a damn. Christmas is now just as much a secular holiday as it is a religious one, and Easter as well. In fact, they were both pagan before they were Christian. This is just keeping religion our of government and government out of religion, which makes sense, since they should have no influence on one another, except through the actions of individuals inspired by religion.

    • Stan April 19, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      Tyler. Those are Pagan holidays that the Christians adopted for the purpose of facilitating religious conversions. Everybody knows Jesus was actually born in summer, and the whole ester egg thing is an adaptation of a fertility celebration. As a country we do not officially celebrate “easter” or “christmas,” we celebrate “spring break” and “winter break.”

      My thoughts, though, are that you are on a roll and should consider banning those work days off for yourself and spend more time in school. You will surely learn that in this country there is no constitutional punishment for praying, nor is there a punishment for not praying.

  28. Putolover April 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    No prayer is exactly why so many in this country are going to burn in eternal hellfire.

  29. Miami April 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Fox News is going to have a field day with this one. I’m sure Glenn Beck is going to compare this to communism trying to stamp out religion.

  30. Equal April 20, 2010 at 12:12 am

    We need to make the act of cutting genitals illegal in the US until the person is of legal consenting age to make the decision on body modification. Stop “circumcision” It is Male Genital Mutilation.

  31. Kee April 20, 2010 at 1:50 am

    I always hated the government telling me when I should pray. I think I’ll have an extra personal prayer day every year from now on to celebrate that the government is out of that aspect of my life!

  32. Evan April 20, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Just because there are more problems does not mean we stop making America a better country.

  33. Rebs April 20, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Does everyone on this thread who supports a National Day of Prayer also support a National Day of Talking to Imaginary Friends? The two are the same for me (and I don’t support either). Instead, how about a National Day of Critical Thinking? Does anyone have any objection to that?

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