National Day Of Prayer At Risk

04.05.11 | Sarah Harnisch

There's a big debate going on in Washington about whether or not to observe the National Day of Prayer this year. It's slated to take place in 29 days, on May 5th. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said "this is turning those of us who are not religious, who do not believe in a God, or who do not believe in a God who answers prayer, into second class citizens." She says the tens of thousands of events that are held on public property are devisive, and only for people who are exclusively evangelical Christians. But Michael Calhoun, the Director of Communications of the National Day of Prayer Task Force says the day of prayer has been going on informally in the United States since the 1770's. He says that makes it just as much a historical holiday as a religious one. He said the Freedom From Religion Foundation is "a small group of people trying to intimidate public officials." On April 5th, 2010, a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin ruled the Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. President Obama said he would observe it anyway, both last year and this year. The legal challenge is still ongoing, it's in the appeals process, pending before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Calhoun says he fully expects it to be overturned. The National Day of Prayer Group has started a petition on their website, if you'd like to fight for prayer in the nation's capitol. Here is a link to the petition.