The Freedom From Religion Foundation needs your help to support our court victory last week, when a three-judge panel of the Colorado State Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in our favor that gubernatorial proclamations of an annual Colorado Day of Prayer are unconstitutional.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is having a fit over FFRF’s victory, and is targeting the governor with a national campaign urging him to appeal. The task force, housed at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, has launched a “Save the National Day of Prayer” campaign.
The Colorado Court of Appeals prefaced its decision by pointing out, “our decision does not affect anyone’s constitutionally protected right to pray, in public or in private, alone or in groups,” but that religious liberty is “abridged when the State affirmatively sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer.”
These “proclamations send the message that those who pray are favored members of Colorado’s political community, and that those who do not pray do not enjoy that favored status,” wrote Judge Bernard.
For details, read FFRF’s news release, which links to the 75-page ruling.
Judge Bernard noted that “all the proclamations of the Colorado Day of Prayer were issued in response to annual requests from the National Day of Prayer Task Force,” which has an overtly proselytizing and theocratic mission for which it was improperly seeking gubernatorial support.
Won’t you please take a moment to contact the governor and attorney general asking them not to appeal this well-reasoned and correct ruling? Your individual action counts.
(See talking points below)
- Governor John Hickenlooper (a Democrat)
Email contact form: http://www.colorado.gov/govhdir/requests/opinion.html
136 State Capitol
Denver CO 870203-1792
Phone: (303) 866-2471 Fax: (303) 866-2003
- Attorney General John Suthers
The Office of the Attorney General
1525 Sherman St., 7th floor
Denver CO 80203
Main Switchboard (303) 866-4500
Fax: (303) 866-5691
- Consumer Complaint Line - in Denver and out of state (303) 866-5189
- Consumer Complaint Line - Outside of Denver but in Colorado (800) 222-4444
Sample wording (feel free to cut and paste):
“Protect freedom of conscience by keeping religion strictly out of government. Do not appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals’ reasoned ruling against the Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations. Citizens who wish to worship are free to do so, but it oversteps government authority for the governor to exhort citizens to pray, much less telling citizens to set aside an entire day once a year to pray. The Colorado Day of Prayer, principally organized by the exclusionary and divisive National Day of Prayer Task Force, is divisive and unconstitutional.”
Those who would like more background may read on:
FFRF filed this lawsuit in Colorado state court in 2008, when Bill Ritter, Jr., was governor. Gov. John Hickenlooper inherited the case.
The task force makes the untrue claim that federal courts have ruled the National Day of Prayer proclamations “constitutional.” No federal court has ruled that the National Day of Prayer is constitutional. In fact, FFRF won a historic 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb declaring the federal National Day of Prayer unconstitutional because the government is impermissibly taking sides on religion.
When Obama appealed the ruling, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unfortunately threw FFRF’s case out, but only on standing (the right to sue). It did not rule on the merits of Judge Crabb’s decision.
The Colorado appeals court affirmed state standing to challenge the Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations, without offering a legal judgment on the National Day of Prayer itself.
For more background on the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer federal law which inspired the Colorado Day of Prayer violation, visit FFRF's National Day of Prayer webpage.
Read the May 10, 2012 ruling by Colorado Court of Appeals here.