The U.S. National Day of Prayer “Unconstitutional!”

Apr 18, 2010 1 Comment by

U.S.President Dwight Eisenhower

18th April, 2010

Throughout my life I have rubbed shoulders with many American champions of prayer. I have worked with Christians from America in various locations around the world and found them to be outstanding prayer warriors and faith-builders.

Like so many others, I was stunned this week when a U.S. federal judge ruled the National Day of Prayer to be ‘unconstitutional,’ saying it violates the separation of church and state.

U.S. District Court judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin made the ruling on April 15 that laws established in 1952 and 1988 were indeed ‘unconstitutional.’

Judge Crabb was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in 1979, by Jimmy Carter, which maybe speaks volumes.

“It (The National Day of Prayer) goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgement’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context,” U.S. District Judge Crabb ruled.

The case challenging the National Day of Prayer was brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics.

“The law is on our side,” said the group’s co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The judge had the courage to make the decision on the merits of the case and not worry about public opinion.”

Pray Anyway!

First of all, the ruling by this judge is a bitter disappointment, but it should not be a hindrance for Christians who pray. What disciple of Jesus needs permission from a judge or a government to seek the Lord through prayer, intercession or even fasting?

Judge Crabb and the FFRF group, need something of an education about the Judeo-Christian values embraced by the founding fathers of the country that allows them to even make such challenges in an open court. Try presenting such a challenge to rulers in any nation, which denies the Judeo-Christian values of faith?

Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson, said “Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty. This is a concerted effort by a small but determined number of people who have tried to prohibit all references to the Creator in the public square, whether it be the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the simple act of corporate prayer — this is unconscionable for a free society.”
I Like Ike!
History reveals, the National Day of Prayer came about as America enjoyed a profound blessing from the Lord, and it is interesting to note the influence of the U.S. President of the day.

The personal faith of President Dwight Eisenhower inspired his party and his nation to honor God. According to ‘America’s Spiritual Heyday’ by K. Daniel Glover (1), “The Republican National Committee declared Eisenhower ‘the spiritual leader of our times.’

President Eisenhower led a prayer at his inauguration and his inaugural parade included ‘a float to God.’

Eisenhower was elected in 1952. The National Day of Prayer started in 1953 at a time of great inspiration and Christian revival across the nation.

In 1952 the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was published. Movie hits included ‘the Ten Commandments’ and ‘I Believe’ topped the music charts. (Visit K. Daniel Glover for much more detail -see address below).

Many of us who are not Americans have been encouraged by their faith in God and their open proclamation of His Sovereignty.

In God We Trust

The Bible warns all Christians to be on the alert. It tells us to ‘defend the gospel’ and there’s a very good reason.
It seems the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ came under recent challenge in the U.S. courts. (American currency boldly displays ‘In God We Trust’, a wonderful declaration).
This report from the National Day of Prayer website: “the appeals court upheld the inscription (3-0) of the national motto “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and currency, citing an earlier 9th Circuit panel that ruled the phrase is ceremonial and patriotic and “has nothing what-so-ever to do with the establishment of religion.” (2)
So, that’s encouraging and this is too. The White House has issued a statement saying the Crabb- ruling will not affect plans by President Obama to issue a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer to be held May 6.
“As he did last year, President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer,” the White House announced on Twitter. (How up-to-date and ‘cool’ is that?)
Sadly, last year President Obama did not host the traditional White House prayer observance, which is something President George W. Bush did throughout his administration.
Pray Anyway!
“I can’t think of anything more constitutional than prayer,” said Carol Harper, National Day of Prayer District coordinator for Davidson County. “I find it incredibly ironic that so many Americans seem to have no problem coming together in anger and protest, yet a federal judge rules that this great nation cannot come together in prayer for just one day? I fail to see the logic or the wisdom.”
Carol I agree with your query about anger and protest groups but just for the record, no judge can rule against your ‘great nation’ coming together to pray.
Let us remember the statement in 1983 made by President Ronald Reagan: “Revived as an annual observance by Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer has become a great unifying force for our citizens who come from all the great religions of the world. Prayer unites people. This common expression of reverence heals and brings us together as a Nation and we pray it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.”
The atheists and agnostics certainly did not have unity, reverence or respect in mind when they initiated this court case.
I just hope and pray the court ruling by Judge Crabb will inspire Christians and people of faith across America to treasure the privilege of prayer and use it to keep their nation and their people centered in His blessing. (I and many others non-Americans will be praying with you and for you)
If we take the thinking of your enemies to the nth degree, how long will it be before ‘America, the Beautiful’ is also summoned before Judge Crabb?
“O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the fruited plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea!”
Oops there’s that G word again!
In a statement for the National Day of Prayer in 1954 President Eisenhower said: “I most earnestly hope that men and women, boys and girls over all the world will join us on that day in that act of faith.
“May the many millions of people shut away from contact and communion with peoples of the free world join their prayers with ours.
“May the world be ringed with an act of faith so strong as to. annihilate the cruel, artificial barriers erected by little men between the peoples who seek peace on earth through the Divine Spirit.”
Maybe it is this heart that made ‘I like Ike’ such a winning declaration.
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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.

One Response to “The U.S. National Day of Prayer “Unconstitutional!””

  1. Wattie Bracken says:

    As secular humanism has been declared a religion a the request of the US humanist society, the humanists and atheists are on shaky grounds as they are also making statements and holding meetings that could be challenged in court re freedom from religion.

    I also acknowledge that the US constitution does not guarantee freedom from religion but freedom from an establishment religion. Could the courts be in error?

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