FFRF seeks stop to State Dept., Pentagon prayer events

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent letters to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking them to cancel their respective agencies' National Day of Prayer events on May 6.

The Foundation said the Pentagon has distanced itself from Rev. Franklin Graham for his anti-Islam comments. "The Pentagon must now distance itself from the equally inappropriate National Day of Prayer itself."

The Foundation's letter asks Secretary Gates to "take immediate steps to ensure that no Pentagon officials or employees organize, promote or participate in a Pentagon National Day of Prayer event in their official capacity." 

It notes that NDP Task Force Chairwoman Shirley Dobson was quoted recently as asking all Americans to "defend the right to pray in the Pentagon."

No such right exists, Gaylor said. "Military personnel have an individual right to the free exercise of religion, but not to use the imprimatur or property of the government or military to promote personal religious views."

The National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is housed at Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., says on its Web site (along with "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him") that the State Department prayer event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Foundation's letter to Secretary Clinton notes that at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 4, she said the Obama administration was "working to bridge religious divides."

"We request that you practice what you preach. Nothing is more divisive or inappropriate than religion in government," said Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, FFRF co-presidents.

Official government participation in religious ritual and proselytizing violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, FFRF said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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