Thursday, April 14, 2011

Atheists Lose: 'Day of Prayer' Ruled Constitutional

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down in a unanimous decision federal judge Barbara Crabb's opinion that a law establishing a day for the observance was unconstitutional.

For background, read Under Attack: National Day of Prayer

-- From "Appeals court tosses out prayer day challenge" by Reuters 4/14/11

The [National Day of Prayer] proclamation imposes no requirement on a person and therefore no one is hurt by a request that can be declined, the appeals court ruling said. The court reversed the decision of a federal judge in Wisconsin and ordered the case be dismissed.

"Those who do not agree with a president's statement may speak in opposition to it, they are not entitled to silence the speech of which they disapprove," wrote the appeals court's chief judge Frank Easterbrook, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Congress enacted a law in 1988 that set the first Thursday in May as the appropriate day for a national day of prayer and instructed the president to issue a proclamation.

The case is Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. v. Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, No. 10-1973 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Court dismisses suit over National Day of Prayer" by The Associated Press 4/14/11

"A feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury," the appeals court said.

The proclamation is a request, not a demand, the appeals court said. The president frequently calls on citizens to do things they prefer not to do, possibly on religious or political grounds, the court said. However, the Republican Party would not have standing to bring a lawsuit against the president if he speaks to his supporters or tries to sway the undecided, Easterbrook wrote.

The opinion cites President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, which mentions God seven times and prayer three times.

"The address is chiseled in stone at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall," Easterbrook wrote. "An argument that the prominence of these words injures every citizen, and that the Judicial Branch could order them to be blotted out, would be dismissed as preposterous."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a Thursday statement saying it would seek a review by the full appeals court. Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor called the decision cowardly.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Nat'l Day of Prayer upheld by 7th Circuit" by Baptist Press Staff 4/14/11

"I'm grateful that sanity still reigns at the appellate court level, at least in the Seventh Circuit," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "The idea that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional is absurd on its face. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

"Americans have been having national days of prayer long before the Constitution was ratified and ever since the Constitution was ratified, and, God willing, we will have them for many centuries into the future," Land said.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing last year's opinion, commended the appeals court "for rejecting even the idea of a federal lawsuit that demands this kind of religious expression be scrubbed from the public square."

"Today's ruling sends a message to Judge Barbara Crabb and any other activist judge who would rewrite the Constitution to advance a hostile treatment of religion in public life," Perkins said in the written statement. "This is a perfect example of a harassing lawsuit that should have been dismissed at the outset."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.