Petition National day of Prayer (3)
Your name has been successfully added to FFRF's
petition against the National Day of Prayer
Thank you for signing the petition to oppose the National Day of Prayer and governmental intrusion into personal conscience. God plus Government is a dangerous mix. Your support of the right to freedom from religion has never been more crucial.
To view the signatures, click here or scroll down.
Other Ways to Help
FFRF is in a David vs. Goliath battle. The religious-right is using the National Day of Prayer court battle as a fundraising and organizing tool. Help defend the decision.
2) Contact the White House
Please express your disappointment, civilly, over the fact that the Obama Administration is defending a McCarthy-era law entangling religion and government:
The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111
3) Contact elected officials to oppose National Day of Prayer proclamations
Last year all 50 governors proclaimed a National Day of Prayer, even though the federal law does not require them to. In recent years, more than half of governors have used the proclamation wording, scripture verse or themes ghostwritten for them by the Christian evangelical National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by Shirley Dobson.
Ask your public officials to refrain, in their official capacity, from proclaiming or participating in the National Day of Prayer. (Please thank mayors and local officials who respect the separation between state and church.)
Use this online directory to find links to e-mail and postal addresses, and phone numbers for key elected officials.
4) Join FFRF’s "Oppose the National Day of Prayer" Facebook Cause group and help spread the word by telling your friends
5) Monitor and engage in civil protest of National Day of Prayer observances in your area
The National Day of Prayer Task Force Web site will tip you off to what’s happening in your area. Carry placards (“Nothing Fails Like Prayer,” “Good Works — Not Long Prayers,” “Helping Hands Not Lips That Pray,” “God & Government — A Dangerous Mix,” “Get Prayer Out of Government,” “We are NOT a Christian Nation,” "The National Day of Prayer — Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!") Keep FFRF posted about your activism.
If you see related violations, such as "mayor's prayer breakfasts," contact our legal department.
6) Write letters to the editor
The National Day of Prayer lawsuit and appeal are news — send a short, succinct letter about why you oppose it, why it violates the Constitution or why it is an affront to you as a nonbeliever! Respond to religious op-ed and letters promoting the National Day of Prayer and religion in government. Add your support of the judge’s ruling and FFRF to comment sections at online publications and blogs. There are almost as many nonreligious Americans, at 15% of the population, as there are active members of the religious right. Come out of the closet and influence public opinion!
If you are not already a member, please sign up today! Support the largest, fastest-growing national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics and other skeptics), and our vital work to keep church and state separate.
FFRF has nine important lawsuits in the courts, and has taken more than 50 court challenges, winning many significant victories to defend the Jeffersonian “wall of separation between church and state.” Won’t you help? Don’t let the Religious Right cash in on FFRF’s court victory. This is the time for secular supporters to flex some collective muscle and speak out for true religious liberty.
Your membership is deductible for income-tax purposes (a modest $40 a year; $50 household) and includes 10 issues a year of the lively newspaper, Freethought Today, and Private Line, a twice-a-year newsletter disclosing membership and financial information.
Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor
on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701
Evangelical Christians hijacked the constitution
The National Day of Prayer is a federal statute, Public Law 82-324, passed in 1952 at the direct suggestion of Rev. Billy Graham. Its purpose, as explained by Graham, was to help bring “the Lord Jesus Christ” to the nation (“What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country kneeling before almighty God in prayer.”) U.S. Sen. Absalom Robertson, father of Rev. Pat Robertson, introduced the bill in the Senate, saying it was a measure against “the corrosive forces of communism which seek simultaneously to destroy our democratic way of life and the faith in an Almighty God on which it is based.”
The Senate report further claimed:
“Prayer has indeed been a vital force in the growth and development of this Nation. It would certainly be appropriate if, pursuant to this resolution, and the proclamation it urges, the people of this country were to unite in a day of prayer each year, each in accordance with his own religious faith, thus reaffirming in a dramatic manner the deep religious conviction which has prevailed throughout the history of the United States.”
The Senate report over the National Day of Prayer reveals that the National Day of Prayer law is based on bad history: The revisionist myth that the founders of our secular Constitution prayed during the Constitutional Convention. Prayer was indeed suggested, but the proposal, floated by Benjamin Franklin, was not adopted. Instead, the convention adjourned for the day. Our founders went on to adopt a godless and entirely secular Constitution, whose only references to religion in government are exclusionary.
The law specified that: “The President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
As FFRF showed in submitting evidence in its federal lawsuit, the religious right was likewise responsible for the second law relating to the National Day of Prayer. Congress, in 1988, turned the floating date into a fixed date, designating the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. The impetus for the change came from Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and the National Day of Prayer Committee, who lobbied Congress for the alteration, so that we “have a day in this country where we cover this nation in prayer and the leaders.” Rep. Tony Hall, the bill’s sponsor, noted that the purpose of amending the law was to “bring more certainty to the scheduling of events related to the National Day of Prayer and permit more effective long-range planning.” Pat Boone, co-chair of the National Prayer Committee, said the floating date “offered little advance notice to adequately inform the grassroots constituencies.” In introducing the bill in the Senate, Strom Thurmond noted the difficulties “for religious groups to give advance notice,” and how “maximum participation” would be achieved if it "were established as a specific, annual, calendar day.” Sen. Jess Helms endorsed the bill so it would provide “certainty” to “the Nation and its leaders” and help America “reclaim her religious heritage,” so “that God in heaven will hear and forgive our sins and heal our land.”
Since 1989, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, housed in Focus on the Family’s headquarters, has written presidential proclamations with a yearly theme and scripture verse. Presidents, governors and other public officials have often used the National Day of Prayer Task Force wording or themes. The evangelical Christian group exists to mobilize the “Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.” Its chairperson, Shirley Dobson, has spoken at eight White House prayer services on the National Day of Prayer. It organizes between 30,000 to 40,000 prayer gatherings across the country for that date, which was “specifically limited to the Judeo-Christian heritage and those who share that conviction as expressed in the Lausanne Covenant” (such as that the bible is “the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms” and that “there is only one Savior and only one gospel”).
Coordinators, volunteers and speakers at task force events must share these views to participate. Many divisive incidents have occurred because of the exclusion of Jews, Muslims or other Christians from these events. The task force’s stated goal is to pressure all 50 governors to likewise issue a National Day of Prayer proclamation, as well as mayors, county executives and sheriffs.
At least a quarter of the presidential proclamations have repeated the lie that our founders prayed at the constitutional convention adopting the secular Constitution. Many presidential proclamations have invoked other myths, such as that George Washington knelt in prayer in the snow in Valley Forge. All presidential proclamations have instructed “all Americans” to observe a National Day of Prayer. All presidential proclamations have instructed citizens not only to pray and to set aside a day to pray, but have told them what to pray about.
The task force and evangelicals not only hijacked the National Day of Prayer, they hijacked the Constitution.
See links below or at upper right to read the judge's ruling, sign the FFRF petition against the National Day of Prayer, and read the FFRF's legal complaint, briefs and evidence.
Oppose the National Day of Prayer —
God & Government a Dangerous Mix
Dear Mr. President and Governors of the 50 States:
We, the undersigned, applaud the federal court ruling by Judge Barbara Crabb declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.
Our secular nation was founded in part by refugees seeking freedom of conscience and freedom from religious tyranny. They wanted a land where government could not tell them which church to support, what religious rituals to engage in or what to believe or disbelieve. They knew there can be no true religious liberty without the freedom to dissent. Whether to pray, or believe in a god who answers prayer, is an intensely precious and personal decision protected under our First Amendment as a paramount matter of conscience.
Congress, in 1952, abridged that freedom of conscience when it designated a National Day of Prayer: "The President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” (Public Law 82-324)
Rev. Billy Graham asked Congress to declare an annual National Day of Prayer so “the Lord Jesus Christ” would be recognized across the land. Sen. Absalom Robertson, father of Rev. Pat Robertson, introduced the bill to instill "faith in an Almighty God." Influential evangelicals lobbied Congress in 1988 to designate the first Thursday in May as the annual National Day of Prayer so they could better organize prayer events uniting religion and government.
Our founders did not pray when they adopted our Constitution, which shows their intent to separate religion from government. The Constitution's only references to religion are exclusionary. The U.S. President and elected officials have neither the moral nor the constitutional authority to dictate to Americans to pray, much less to tell citizens what to pray about, to set aside an entire day for prayer every year, and to gather with others “to turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
As Judge Crabb ruled, "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”
Don't let Christian evangelicals hijack our secular Constitution.