National Day of Prayer

Help the Freedom From Religion Foundation defend a landmark ruling declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

“The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy,” ruled senior federal District Judge Barbara Crabb, in her April 15, 2010 decision. Congress may no more declare a National Day of Prayer than it “may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.”

Judge Crabb added: “It is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence any individual’s decision whether and when to pray.”

Disappointingly, President Obama announced on April 22 that he will appeal the ruling. The religious-right backlash has begun. Religious-right groups are raising funds and a ruckus to protest the ruling. The National Day of Prayer Task Force (housed in Focus on the Family headquarters), has hijacked the National Day of Prayer as an evangelical Christian event. The Alliance Defense Fund, a theocratic legal group working closely with the task force, and which has a whopping $32.7 million annual budget, is shamelessly raising more funds to fight FFRF’s victory. A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has denounced the decision. Many public officials, including President Obama, are planning to observe the National Day of Prayer.

Help FFRF defend the ruling!

As Thomas Paine wrote: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must undergo the fatigue . . . of supporting it.” Don’t let the wealthy religious right win this battle by default! Fight back! Please help FFRF not only defend this court decision with your donation to our Legal Fund, but help FFRF win this conflict in the court of public opinion.

  • Donate to FFRF’s Legal Fund.
  • Join FFRF if you are not already a member.
  • Take every opportunity to speak out about why it violates personal conscience for our federal government to tell Americans to pray, to set aside an entire day for prayer every year, even to tell Americans what to pray about, and to gather with other Americans “to turn to god in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

It is a shocking abrogation of freedom of conscience for government to intrude in matters of personal conscience.

Freedom depends on freethinkers.

Other Ways to Help

1) Donate to FFRF’s Legal Fund

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.

2) Contact the White House

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.)

4) 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.

5) 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!

6) Join the Freedom From Religion Foundation!

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.

Thank you.

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor
on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701

Freedom From Religion Foundation