Federal Court Strikes Down National Day Of Prayer

A federal district court has struck down the congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer, a decision Americans United hailed as a “tremendous victory for religious liberty.”

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled April 15 that by enacting the law, the government has encouraged prayer and “taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”

The National Day of Prayer was created by Congress in 1952. After pressure from Religious Right groups, it was codified in 1988 as the first Thursday in each May.

Many Religious Right leaders were dismayed by the decision, claiming it was an attack on America’s heritage.

But AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said Crabb’s decision in Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Obama brings us back to what the Founding Fathers intended.

“Congress has no business telling Americans when or how to pray,” said Lynn. “The Constitution forbids the government to meddle in religious matters. Decisions about worship should be made by individuals without direction from elected officials. That’s what freedom is all about.”