The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled May 10 that proclamations from the governor calling for a State Day of Prayer go against the Constitution’s provisions with regard to religious liberty.
The ruling handed down finds that when there are gubernatorial proclamations of a Colorado Day of Prayer, the content is “predominantly religious; they lack a secular context; and their effect is a government endorsement of religion as preferred over non-religion.”
The press release from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) who brought the case, details the court ruling and summarizes the logic used to determine what a fair-minded individual would have to see as obvious.
Predictably, those in support of state sanctioned prayer reacted strongly. The National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF) is based in Colorado Springs, and advocates nationally for state endorsement of prayer.
The NDPTF issued a news release May 11 calling the ruling an “ongoing assault on the National Day of Prayer, as well as our hard-won religious liberties.”
The court in the ruling specifically stated they were ruling in regard to the Colorado Constitution, but the case does of course have national ramifications. The court correctly interpreted the facts of the case and took the courageous stance to make a ruling they knew would draw immediate attacks from the NDPTF, which enjoys strong political support nationally and in Colorado.
No one is suggesting an assault on prayer
The court pointed out that it’s not “sacrilegious nor anti-religious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves.”
That’s the crux of the case brought by the FFRF, and it also points to the abject hypocrisy of groups like the NDPTF and others who plea for a National Day of Prayer. No one has ever suggested the faithful can’t pray for the nation every single day, or call from church pulpits for prayer for the nation or government.
As a freethinker, I want government to go about their business of running government. I don’t need them telling me to pray, and I don’t ask for them to tell the faithful not to pray. That’s freedom of, and from, religion. Frankly, I question the motives of religious folk who feel the need to seek governmental validation.
They can’t, however, as for it to be sanctioned by government. What if atheists were awarded with a day wherein the nation was called upon to refute prayer, for citizens to turn their backs on superstitions? Of course the outcry would be incredible, even if the proclamations said refuting prayer was not an obligation, but just a suggestion.