FFRF statement on Day of Prayer case

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has denied FFRF’s request for an en banc review of an April 2011 decision by a three-judge panel that dismissed FFRF’s historic challenge of the National Day of Prayer.

The 7th Circuit did not rule that the National Day of Prayer is constitutional, only that FFRF did not have standing to challenge the law.

In effect, said Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, the court slammed shut the courthouse doors against citizens injured when the government dishonors the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. “The appeals court panel had cavalierly tossed out the beautifully reasoned 2010 decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, in which she made a passionate defense of government neutrality in religion as the key to protecting freedom of conscience for all. Her decision was a succinct rebuttal of the Religious Right’s attempts to rewrite America’s secular history as one of official government-fostered devotion.”

FFRF, its plaintiffs, its 16,500 members and the 50 million nonreligious U.S. adults deserved better than to be told they have no rights in this matter, Gaylor said.

“It is not only FFRF and nonreligious Americans who should be concerned by the censorious direction of the U.S. courts. If FFRF and its members do not have ‘standing,’ than neither do theocratic groups, which are constantly in court trying to blend religion and government. It’s bad legal precedent.”

FFRF will continue to pursue its two other National Day of Prayer challenges, one in federal court in Arizona and one in state court in Colorado. “We will also be looking closely at state and regional government establishments of the National Day of Prayer,” Gaylor said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation