Petition to End Unconstitutional National Day of Prayer

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.

Freedom From Religion Foundation