April 22nd, 2010
01:52 PM ET
13 years ago

U.S. appeals ruling striking down National Day of Prayer

Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration will fight to preserve the law establishing an annual National Day of Prayer, the Justice Department confirmed Thursday.

The law was declared unconstitutional last week by a federal judge.

The Justice Department's official filing of a "notice to appeal" Thursday came as no surprise, after White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said following the ruling that President Barack Obama intends to recognize this year's National Day of Prayer, which is May 6.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb in Wisconsin ruled on April 15 that the 1952 law creating the National Day of Prayer violates the ban on government-backed religion.

The ruling produced predictable reactions, with most religious groups sharply criticizing it and groups backing a strict separation of church and state applauding it.

The injunction against the National Day of Prayer would not take effect until the appeals have been exhausted.

The case is Freedom From Religion v President Barack Obama, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

Filed under: Obama administration • Religion
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Bethy

    Yep, I agree with that ruling...church and state are separate! A "national" day of prayer is NOT American. People can pray or not pray anyday as they wish, but nobody should be "forced" to celebrate something that is religious by nationalizing it.

    I disagree with the President on this one (Gosh, I cannot wait to read what the ring-wingers have to criticize Obama about on this one! I'm sure they will think of something).

    April 22, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Lucullus

    Keep your religion, your spirituality and your belief in fairy tales out of the public forum. The thing that these religio-thugs can never quit grasp is that there are a lot of people, like me who don't begrudge you your beliefs, we think they're silly, but we don't begrudge them. Just stop insisting that we have to accept having then forced down our throats.

    April 22, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Just me

    I have to give the President props for this!

    April 22, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |

    How did we ever get into this mess that the Government would even have to strike down a law trying to be passed doing away with prayer and Christianity. Oh woe is America when they forsake God.

    April 22, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Corey, Maryland

    Barbara Crabb is my hero for the rest of the day. I have no clue who she is, but she is obviously a very smart woman who deserves lots of praise for not letting Christians ruin this country anymore!

    April 22, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Randy in AZ

    I'm surprised Obama will fight this ruling, as I thought he was a constitutional scholar. This law is obviously a violation of the first amendment. It's not about whether a person should be allowed to pray or not, it's about whether the U.S. government supports one form of religion over another. I agree with the federal judge's ruling.

    April 22, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. midwest liberal

    Pardon the pun, but thank God! When the God-fearing and God-loving don't get the every possible opportunity to shove their belief in their fictional god down everyone's throat they get bent out of shape. I will celebrate a National Prayer day, supported with the full backing of the Obama administration, when they throw equal support behind a National Atheist Affirmation (not prayer!) Day.

    April 22, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Sgt. USMC

    Talk to the republikkklan who doesn't want to recognize anyone's religion and see everyone else as terrorists for not following what they believe in.

    April 22, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Aspen Professor

    I cannot wait to hear what the right-wing extremist idiots have to say about Obama's support of this holiday. No doubt they will do a complete 180 and accuse Obama of something. What a group oif blantant lying, hypocritical politicians they are.

    April 22, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. fastrack1

    Separation of church and state. Interesting that our founding fathers wanted exactly that and yet the conservative (the ones who think only they have the right to 'translate' the Constitiution) think it's appropriate to impose "Christian" standards on the entire nation. Leave "In God We Trust" on the money (like the stars and stripes, it's become tradition) and leave National Day of Prayer out of the mix. Eliminate the tax-exempt church status and watch how many political-factions-disguised-as-churches fold up their tents. D'ya hear me, "C Street"??

    April 22, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Captain Crunch

    Yiippie! That's NOT a constitutionally protected right! You want to pray, go for it – just don't try to make it a national effort.

    April 22, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Ben in Texas

    Here's a clear-cut case where the Obama administration is dead wrong. Having government officially endorse religion in this way is extremely divisive.

    If you are a Christian and don't believe that, tell me how you would feel about a National Atheism Day, or National Bow Down to Allah Day.

    Not having that specially designated day does absolutely nothing to prevent anyone from praying or exercising their religious beliefs. Pray until you turn blue, anytime you feel like it. Just don't insist that we all join you, and don't insist that the federal government, to which even atheists pay taxes (and which you probably hate, anyway) create a special endorsement of your religion.

    April 22, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Dale

    Again – Separation of Church and State!

    April 22, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Ryan

    We aren't Islam so we don't need this. Technically, according to the bible, you are to pray silently...and you can do that anytime, anywhere.

    Personally, I think you could just realize that religion was and always has been a tool to control the masses and particularly people who are generally more paranoid. When bad things happen to me I accept them as is, not some mythical god's will. Rather then have a "what would Jesus do?" approach to life try a "what would you do if you didn't suck?" theory.

    Jesus was a socialist hippy anyway.

    April 22, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |

    Christmas and Easter are next. (You'll just change the holidays to Consumer Happiness Day and Bunny Eggs Day.) Why should the gov't take holiday on these days if they don't believe in what they represent? Political correctness is destroying what little culture this country had. We should encourage all citizens and immigrants to retain their culture and not lose our identities because someone is offended. That's called an opinion, not a law.

    April 22, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Why is that the people who scream the loudest about following the Constitution to the letter are the ones who scream the loudest about the US being a Christian country, when Amendment #1 clearly states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"?

    April 22, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. witch56

    I don't want a national day of prayer!!!!!!!! I am tired of having religion shoved down my throat. I don't care if someone is religious that is their right, I just don't want or care to know about it. It should be personal and private. I don't push what I believe on you so don't push yours on me!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not all of us Americans are religious why don't people get that. So many people are worried about their rights, I should have the same rights.

    April 22, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Tori in Texas

    Instead of a National Day of Prayer, why don't we encourage a National Day of Peace. That way, there is nothing to argue about. People can attend the church of their choice, or not, volunteer, get a group together to help a eldery neighbor around the house, write letters to global leaders to support peace first or people can just have a quiet day in thought about how they can help make the world a better place. I seem to remember something JC said about not praying in public or bragging about your good works. A National Day of Prayer doesn't get much more public, does it. This is another Obama decision I don't agree with.

    April 22, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. geecee

    President Obama, good luck on this one. You will be "darned if you do, and darned if you don't." The Progressive/Liberals will attack you because they seriously believe in separation of Church and State and do not want religion anywhere near our government. The Ultra Right Wing Conservative Nutjobs will curse you if you don't try to overturn this decision, and will demand it is because "you are not with America and do not believe in any religion, or at a minimum, you are a Muslim." You can't win on this one. Of course, the Conservatives, being the strict constructionists of our Constitution that they are, should know that our founding fathers tried to separate religion from government – and Freedom of Religion is one of the tenets this Country was founded on, but hey, that must have been a slip of Jefferson's pen! They WANT religion in Government, but they don't want Government in Religion or Government in anything else for that matter. No Government interference in anything!!

    April 22, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. DennisK

    Judge Crabb (oh, how her critics will make fun of that!) got it right. The government has no business sanctioning (nor, conversely, banning) religion activity. How stupid do you have to be to not understand the concept of separation of Church and State–and that both benefit from that separation?
    It also eludes me as to why "In God We Trust" is still on our currency.
    Lest anyone misconstrue, I am not anti-religion–I am anti-goverment-intrusion-on-religion.

    April 22, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    I am glad this was struct down. What part of seperation of church and state doesn't the government understand. Plus Religion currently has a bad name; pedophile catholic priests, terrorist christian/muslim groups, mormons!

    Our founding fathers didn't like religion but they didn't disrespect it. I can see why they were skeptical about religion...

    April 22, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. wwf

    Lets see what the GOP finds wrong with Obama wanting a National Day of Prayer upheld.

    April 22, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. Shirley in California

    Bottom line: This is a Christian nation. For those of you who don't like it .....

    April 22, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. lulu'

    religion is a cancer, period!

    April 22, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. Future expat

    "The Obama administration will fight to preserve the law establishing an annual National Day of Prayer, the Justice Department confirmed Thursday."

    This must be really confusing for the wingnuts who think Obama is some sort of secular Muslim Antichrist Marxist Socialist Fascist Indonesian Kenyan.

    Good thing they've got FOX News' constant nihilistic droning to tell them what to make of this.

    April 22, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |