The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly objecting to a religiously inspired anti-abortion proclamation from the Nebraska governor calling for a “Statewide Day of Prayer to End Abortion.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts has issued the proclamation to mark Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The proclamation declares that it is “right and fitting that the citizens of the state of Nebraska are urged to pray for an end to abortion.” Many Nebraskans have contacted FFRF to voice their concerns about this extremely problematic statement. Ricketts has a dubious history of similar past proclamations that unconstitutionally promote Christianity, which FFRF has written to him about, including a proclamation declaring April 7 last year as a “statewide day of prayer” and a Christmas proclamation last month.
The Nebraska government has no business — and no power — to tell citizens when or whether to pray, much less what to pray about, FFRF contends in its strong letter to Ricketts.
“Our Founders even rejected a proposal to pray while adopting our godless Constitution,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to the governor. “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. You have abridged freedom of conscience in issuing this call to prayer.”
The proclamation treats a constitutionally protected right — a right the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade — as though it were unlawful. It wrongly declares that “Nebraska is a pro-life state.” In fact, more Nebraskans — 50 percent — think abortion should be legal in all or most cases than think it should be illegal (46 percent). Ricketts is erroneously declaring a minority religious view to be an official state policy and viewpoint.
If Ricketts wishes to be a “good Christian,” FFRF notes, he should know that the bible says nothing about abortion. However, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemned public prayers as hypocrisy: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:5–6)
In short, Ricketts proclamation is not only un-American, it is also un-biblical. Instead of issuing such proclamations, Ricketts needs to get off his knees and get to work to protect established constitutional rights, such as the right to privacy, FFRF concludes.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with almost 31,000 members — including members in Nebraska — that protects the constitutional separation between state and church.