Sunday, October 5, 2008

SECULARISTS SUE OVER NATIONAL PRAYER DAY

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state - church watchdog, filed a federal lawsuit broadly challenging the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer Proclamation by the President.

Public Law 100-307 sets the first Thursday in May as "National Day of Prayer." The Foundation is seeking a declaration that the law violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"Mandated Prayer Proclamations by the President exhorting each citizen to pray constitutes an unabashed endorsement of religion," contends the Foundation complaint, filed on behalf of the Foundation by attorney Richard L. Bolton of Boardman Law Firm, Madison, Wis.

The suit alleges that a task force associated with Focus on the Family is "working hand-in-glove" with the government in organizing the National Day of Prayer.

The Foundation charges that the government "aligns and partners" with the NDP Task Force as the official organizer of the National Day of Prayer. The NDP Task Force identifies itself online as "The National Day of Prayer 'Official Website.' " The task force has close ties to Focus on the Family. Its chair person, Shirley Dobson, is married to Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and the task force is located in the Focus on the Family headquarters.

The task force proposes the wording of proclamations and chooses a yearly theme and a bible quote. In 2008, Psalm 28:7, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped" was selected by the NDP as its official biblical reference, and was recited in Bush's proclamation and in at least 15 gubernatorial NDP proclamations. Other governors picked up variations of the task force resolution template and the annual theme.

The Foundation complaint contends that the establishment clause "prohibits government officials and persons acting in joint and concerted action with government officials from taking actions that endorse religion, including specific religions in preference to others, as well as preferring religion over non-religion."

"Exhortations to pray in official presidential proclamations do not constitute ceremonial deism solemnizing some other occasion," the Foundation asserts, but "constitute an end in itself intended to promote and endorse religion."

The suit alleges that the NDP Task Force pressures governors from all 50 states to issue official proclamations, acting "in concert" in a way that aligns them with "the Judeo-Christian principles on which the Task Force is based."

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home