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Friday, April 16, 2010

Praise the Lord! Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional!

Stovepipe hat tip to Pastor Steve Hickey!

First Amendment lovers, exult! In a ruling that protects people of all faiths and people of no faith from government intrusion on their conscience, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled the statute establishing the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

It's this simple:

Recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge, or practice rune magic [Judge Barbara Crabb, quoted by Warren Richey, "Federal Judge: National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional," Christian Science Monitor, 2010.04.15].

I'm eager to read the full 66-page ruling; if you want to beat me to it, here's the PDF link!

I humbly suggest that any religion that needs official state approval is a pretty weak religion. This ruling won't stop folks from gathering around our courthouse flagpole to pray for rain or Barack Obama, but it does affirm that the county commission's (and Congress's) only role in gatherings like the National Day of Prayer is to provide and protect the public spaces that we all may share to express our varied beliefs... assuming we feel the need to publicly demonstrate our piety.

Oh, and don't forget: Jim Dobson's wife Shirley is no longer a defendant in this case. President Barack Hussein Obama is. His Justice Department is considering an appeal to fight for the National Day of Prayer. Judge Barbara Crabb was appointed to the federal bench by President Carter.


  1. Yes, one of my prayers has been answered...now if I can only find a man who doesn't look like...dare I write??? naw, I'll just let everyone guess...

  2. It is sad that a judge can misinterpret law so badly. Does the government really have the right to morally encourage in every other way possible except where there is religion involved? Encouragement does not establish anything and this ruling only establishes the judges bias against religion and warped understanding of the original intent.

    I'd have no problem with a national day of rune magic. Nobody else should any more than a national month a black history.

  3. To what specific religion does "prayer" apply in this context?

  4. I think the National Day of Prayer hawkers make occasional claims that NDP was a day for any kind of prayer by any kind of believer, but they were pretty exclusively evangelical Christian. They've excluded Mormons from their activities.

    Judge Crabb's ruling appears to apply to all forms of prayer. She takes pains to note that she is not saying prayer is bad. She simply rules that it is not the government's place to sanction prayer.

  5. Christian Nationalists are a dirty breed and this was an enormous blow to them and huge victory to the rest of us Americans who like our founding fathers, respect the constitution.

  6. Does the government really have the right to morally encourage in every other way possible except where there is religion involved?

    Yes, that's about it.

    Jefferson's famous "wall" between church and state is a great protection against those that want to use religion for political ends. Because of it, it's fairly difficult to defend bad political ideas against the facts by mis-using religion as a smokescreen instead of the fortunately more traditional American practice of using religion to shed light.

    And although the First Amendment was directed at the Church of England, it has a happy side-effect of protecting us against statements like this, which in an American political context usually (even in South Dakota) raise a red flag.

    I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work.

    - Adolf Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936

  7. You want a true example of Christianity during World War II, I would suggest, CP, that you look up the story of Saint Maximillian Kolbe. He was a Catholic priest who was imprisoned in Auschwitz for providing shelter for refugees. He gladly allowed himself to be starved and tortured, taking the place of a Polish soldier that was interred there too. Kolbe was later canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

    That's a picture-perfect example of what it means to be a Christian... Your calling Hitler a Christian is not only tasteless and offensive, but shows complete ignorance of the true evil that this madman was. It not only offends me, but it also offends the memory and the deeds of Saint Maximillian Kolbe.

  8. Jackrabbit, CP didn't call Hitler anything he only quoted him. Folks like to blame the atrocities committed by Hitler on his supposed secular beliefs but in fact Hitler considered himself a good little Christian and often tried to claim he was doing "Gods work".

    Be offended all you want, it doesn't change facts

  9. Patriotism is apparently not the only "last refuge" of scoundrels.

    Now if the can get the god Mammon off the money.

  10. Cory: It makes no difference what any specific group does in their observence of a national day of..anything. Your mention of the group excluding mormons is no different than a group getting together for the 4th of July and excluding republicans (perhaps MoveOn.org wants to have a picnic) I find the bias against mormonism troubling and at odds with the spirit of the day, but that doesn't mean there is something flawed about having that day and more than moveOn could discredit the 4th of July!

    CP: Jefferson's understanding of the separation was in fact considerably more strict than the other founders. I have no doubt he would never have supported the NDP, although he would have had no problem at all with the states passing the exact same thing, nor would he have said a word against the churches declaring such a day themselves.

  11. Roger, Stan asked about the context. I noted that the big org backing NDP is pretty clearly biased toward one flavor of Christianity (not even your flavor). Since the judge dismissed Dobson and her org as defendant, that org's bias is, as you say, not relevant to the ruling. That's why I went on in the second paragraph to note that the judge's ruling appears to apply to prayer of all religious flavors. And as Curtis rightly notes, the government simply cannot exhort us to pray to any Gods, spirits, or rune wraiths.

    Nonetheless, I think it is important to understand the motivations behind the Dobsons' and others promotion of this "holiday." I'd be as opposed to (and derisive of) any other religious group so weak in its faith that it felt compelled to manufacture a national holiday to give its way of belief special privilege via government sanction.


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