Federal judge rules National Day of Prayer unconstitutional

posted at 4:52 pm on April 15, 2010 by Allahpundit

Who wants to join me in a traditional Hot Air atheist high five for this important victory over a proclamation no one pays much attention to anyway?

Low five? Anyone?

Judge Crabb, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter, wrote in her decision that ‘”some forms of ‘ceremonial deism,’ such as legislative prayer, do not violate the establishment clause.” But she said the National Day of Prayer goes too far.

“It goes beyond mere acknowledgment 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,” she said. “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”…

The suit was originally filed against then-President George W. Bush and members of his administration, but President Obama is now listed as the defendant because the president enforces the statute in question by issuing a proclamation each year declaring National Day of Prayer.

You’ll find the court’s opinion here. As with most judicial opinions these days, it’s at least three times longer than it needs to be, but I’ll snip the conclusion:

I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination. Rather, it is part of the effort to “carry out the Founders’ plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society.” McCreary County, 545 U.S. at 882 (O’Connor, J., concurring). The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.

It is important to clarify what this decision does not prohibit. Of course, “[n]o law prevents a [citizen] who is so inclined from praying” at any time. Wallace, 472 U.S. at 83-84 (O’Connor, J., concurring in the judgment). And religious groups remain free to “organize a privately sponsored [prayer event] if they desire the company of likeminded” citizens. Lee, 505 U.S. at 629 (Souter, J., concurring). The President too remains free to discuss his own views on prayer. Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 723 (Stevens, J., dissenting). The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute as it has in § 119.

I assume this year’s NDOP, scheduled for May 6, will proceed as scheduled since this case is bound to be on appeal at the time. If the appeal fails, they’ll re-write the statute so that in lieu of a national prayer day we’ll have a national “prayer is great” day or something where it’s slightly more ambiguous whether people are being nudged to participate. Incidentally, there was an idiotic rumor circulating this morning, seemingly out of the blue, that The One had already canceled the NPOD. (It’s not true, of course. Last year he eschewed any White House service, but the proclamation remains intact.) I’m used to dumb Obama rumors by now, but this one was especially dumb for the same reason that that rumor that he’d banned fishing or whatever was especially dumb — even if you thought he was secretly itching to do it, it’d be the purest political insanity to actually follow through. Not in a million years would he pick that fight since he’d lose much, much more by doing it than he’d gain. As for his decision to cancel the WH service, I think we know the score on that point and that’s all I’m going to say about it. Wink.


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MB4 -

Why do you as an Atheist insist on rewriting history to bolster your own lack of belief? Personally, I don’t particularly care one way or another about a National Day of Prayer since we already have Thanksgiving, but to declare it unconstitutional is preposterous. Most of us could not care less what you believe, or don’t believe. But when you try to pretend that our history is something it was not, you cross a line which ranges from absurd to the Stalinesque.

And why do you insist on continuously playing a game you always lose? It’s frankly bizarre. Like Ms. Krabb, you supply arguments which destroy your own argument:

… But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
MB4 on April 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779)
MB4 on April 15, 2010 at 5:33 PM

What injury have you suffered? Have you been compelled by force to pray?

Finally, to add to what others have supplied in this silly game, on an historical note, Jefferson dated/signed his official proclamations: “In the year of our lord Christ”. Some Atheist he made. And unlike the anecdotal, footnote free “evidence” you supply, we have actual documents to prove this point beyond dispute.

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Mark Levin gave the best rebuttal of this ruling and of the concept on which such an absurd ruling was based I have ever heard. This judge would rule the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional. The activist judiciary has become a secular version of the Islamic Mullahs. They and they alone decide what “religious expression” is allowed…and we just take it.

opaobie on April 15, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’m amazed (and appalled) that anyone who calls him/herself a conservative would high five when another’s rights are stripped. I thought that was something the left did…

englishqueen01 on April 15, 2010 at 6:36 PM

How is a right stripped? People are free to pray, it’s just left to the private sector.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Jefferson dated/signed his official proclamations: “In the year of our lord Christ”. Some Atheist he made. And unlike the anecdotal, footnote free “evidence” you supply, we have actual documents to prove this point beyond dispute.

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 7:23 PM

He may also have said “God bless you.” A formal signature isn’t tantamount to a theological system.

Also, were the proclamations in Jefferson’s hand or the work of the printer?

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:38 PM

I dont know how anybody could dispute Jefferson’s faith, the man wrote his own interpation of the bible ‘The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth’ I might not agree totally with his interpretation,but there is no doubt the man was religious. In his later life he invited the students and faculty to monticello for services and prayer.

historian on April 15, 2010 at 7:43 PM

AP’s atheistic sensitivities notwithstanding, anyone who thinks that praying once a year for the sake of the country is delusional. If one has to be reminded to “pray,” then they aren’t praying in the first place. Those who know God don’t need these reminders. Time will prove who is right, Allah, and I’m not concerned about your thoughts on this matter.

leftnomore on April 15, 2010 at 7:48 PM

How is a right stripped? People are free to pray, it’s just left to the private sector.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

But are now forbidden to even offer up non-demoninational prayers in a public setting. Further pushing prayer and the religious into the backrooms of America.

Skywise on April 15, 2010 at 7:55 PM

He may also have said “God bless you.” A formal signature isn’t tantamount to a theological system.

Also, were the proclamations in Jefferson’s hand or the work of the printer?

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Oh please! Jefferson’s statements in the historical record are not reflexive responses to sneezes. In any case, it’s not about a “theological system”. Who is making that argument? As for your other question, I provided a link so you can view the doc for yourself. Are you alleging a conspiracy on the part of the printer, where he hoped an unobservant Jefferson wouldn’t notice the “Christ” part when he signed it? If not, what’s your point?

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 8:01 PM

How is a right stripped? People are free to pray, it’s just left to the private sector.
dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

OOOH! I can’t wait for the ACLU to use that argument, just as we are being pushed out of the “private sector” and into ObamaCare.

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Further codifying the reality that the only valid religion is the deification of Man and his ever-changing laws.

The Constitution was not written by men with a reflexive distaste for religious sentiment, but the whole of its interpretation is left to such men today.

spmat on April 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM

private sector.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Your and this judge’s private interpretation of the Constitution affects my public expression of religion. So much for the private/public false dichotomy.

spmat on April 15, 2010 at 8:05 PM

How is a right stripped? People are free to pray, it’s just left to the private sector.
dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

OOOH! I can’t wait for the ACLU to use that argument, just as we are being pushed out of the “private sector” and into ObamaCare.

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Hilarious, B.D.!
So, is America then left with a new permutation of the perversion of the “establishment” clause that reads something like: “In Cash we trust, all others pay God.”

“Left to the private sector?” What does that mean?!?

Jenfidel on April 15, 2010 at 8:11 PM

No scrappy. I’m saying it is just for show. For the suckers (Americans).

meMC on April 15, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Your and this judge’s private interpretation of the Constitution affects my public expression of religion. So much for the private/public false dichotomy.

spmat on April 15, 2010 at 8:05 PM

You can go to any public park and pray. You won’t be denied a group permit if you want to pray with a large group. If you want to legally incorporate the group, the government will let you accept tax-deductible donations.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:14 PM

OOOH! I can’t wait for the ACLU to use that argument, just as we are being pushed out of the “private sector” and into ObamaCare.

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 8:04 PM

The government should stay out of health care and religion. Government prayer would eventually be in praise of Obama. The churches can coordinate an ecumenical prayer without congress.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:18 PM

Freedom of religion, not from religion, its really that simple. Socialists trust in government, but it is in God we trust, this is fundamental, its sad that it has to even be explained to a federal judge no less.

Conservative Voice on April 15, 2010 at 9:25 PM

How is a right stripped? People are free to pray, it’s just left to the private sector.

Because that’s NOT what the First Amendment says. The First Amendment says the free expression of religion shall not be limited by any law – it doesn’t provide exceptions for politicians, public school teachers, or any other open-to-the-public entity.

Since it refuses to acknowledge the role religion clearly had in the founding of this nation – plus prohibits the free exercise thereof – it takes away rights.

And, exactly, where does the private sector being and public sector end? How is that assertion any different from the anti-gun lobby that says the Second Amendment is meant to give guns only to members of government (i.e., the military and law enforcement) and not the general population?

Either the Amendments mean what they say, and that is free expression of religion is a right everyone – including politicians – enjoys or it’s a right no one can have.

englishqueen01 on April 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Oh please! Jefferson’s statements in the historical record are not reflexive responses to sneezes. In any case, it’s not about a “theological system”. Who is making that argument? As for your other question, I provided a link so you can view the doc for yourself. Are you alleging a conspiracy on the part of the printer, where he hoped an unobservant Jefferson wouldn’t notice the “Christ” part when he signed it? If not, what’s your point?

Buy Danish on April 15, 2010 at 8:01 PM

Were these shipping forms different than the ones Adams used? Did Jefferson sign other types of correspondences with the same phrase?

Isn’t it essentially the same as Anno Domini, which is short for Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi? Not everyone who writes a date as “AD” is expressing a religious belief.

Jefferson wasn’t an atheist, but he also didn’t believe in the Trinity or the Resurrection. With those qualifications he was culturally Christian.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM

Either the Amendments mean what they say, and that is free expression of religion is a right everyone – including politicians – enjoys or it’s a right no one can have.

englishqueen01 on April 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Politicians are free to join you in a public space and pray. They just aren’t supposed to be using official acts of Congress to embellish those prayers.

The government is involved in too much. You really want them writing legislation with regard to prayer?

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM

The official proclamation was good enough for Washington & Adams- but not for this judge.

Hm, who to go with?

cs89 on April 15, 2010 at 10:01 PM

why do we never hear about the sacred principles of stare decisis at times like this?

DaMav on April 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Dmav…. SquidShark is the expert. hmmm

CWforFreedom on April 15, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Even vermin Pelosi prayed to some dead saints to bolster her chances of passing Obamascare.

seven on April 15, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Freedom

Vince on April 15, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Freedom of

Vince on April 15, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Freedom of religion.

Vince on April 15, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Politicians are free to join you in a public space and pray. They just aren’t supposed to be using official acts of Congress to embellish those prayers.

The government is involved in too much. You really want them writing legislation with regard to prayer?

Um, 1) the National Day of Prayer was not a legislative session and 2) that’s something that I – as a strict interpreter of the First Amendment – am opposed to because that’s not the issue here.

Again – you are bringing conditions to the Constitution. Where does it say anything you mentioned in your comment? It doesn’t. It prohibits the limitation of free expression of religion and the ESTABLISHMENT of religion.

I’m sick to death of all the stupid nuance and interpretation we put on the Constitution. Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand this is the best way to insure the most freedom-loving document in the history of nations has no more importance than toilet paper is the best way to strip us of all our rights?

englishqueen01 on April 15, 2010 at 10:55 PM

Yeah, and I was getting awful tired of praying for the President every day.
.
If you want to watch some excellent debates between Christopher Hitchens and the brilliant Christian apologist and scholar Frank Turek, visit CrossExamined.org. Find out if you have enough faith to be an Atheist.
.
Atheism is commonly described as the position that there are no deities. Nobody can be an intellectually honest Atheist because in order to be an Atheist, one would have to have proof beyond all doubt that there are absolutely NO deities. That would require knowledge beyond the Atheist’s capacity. Draw a large circle and let it represent ALL of the knowledge in the entire universe. Draw a smaller circle inside the large circle. That represents YOUR knowledge. Unless you are GOD, that circle must be contained INSIDE the larger circle. Since there is knowledge outside YOUR circle, there is the possibility that within that larger knowledge is knowledge of the existence of at least one deity, so the Atheist cannot say with absolute certainty there is NO deity. Therefore; the best an intellectually honest person can say is, “I don’t know whether there is any deity”. That makes the person an Agnostic. (credit to June Hunt for that analogy.)
.
Bottom line: We shouldn’t be denied our rights by intellectual frauds, even if they wear a black robe.

opaobie on April 15, 2010 at 11:31 PM

csdeven on April 15, 2010 at 11:09 PM

one of my favorite stories, thanks for posting

Conservative Voice on April 15, 2010 at 11:48 PM

How long until Virginia’s “Confederate Month” is deemed unconstitutional by a Socialist Federal Judge?

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 16, 2010 at 1:08 AM

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 16, 2010 at 1:08 AM

Oh, no one but we in the south will object to that, and everyone knows Southerners are racist, so who cares about that court ruling? There are far too many people who don’t care about the principles, and only care when it is their ox that is gored.

DrMagnolias on April 16, 2010 at 6:59 AM

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Boy, it sure would take a bunch of dumb-ass, rube redneck, Bible-thumpers, to EVER sign off on some crap statement like that, huh, ALLAHPUNDIT? Bet you’d never catch a bunch of brilliant Atheists puttin’ THEIR names on THAT BS!

oldleprechaun on April 16, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Not everyone who writes a date as “AD” is expressing a religious belief.
dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM

Secularists hate the terms BC and AD – but I digress. The point is that Jefferson added the word, “Christ” when he could have settled for the more common “Year of our lord”.

Buy Danish on April 16, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Secularists hate the terms BC and AD – but I digress. The point is that Jefferson added the word, “Christ” when he could have settled for the more common “Year of our lord”.

Buy Danish on April 16, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Many of them may not like the terms but they probably have signed forms with those initials next to the dates.

“Christ” wasn’t added by Jefferson as part of the written signature. Is there evidence that he asked the printer to add it? Doesn’t “AD” imply “Christ” (and not another lord) in either event? It is a trivial shipping form. I doubt the President spent much time thinking about it. He was more worried about Hamilton, the national debt and buying the Lousiana Territory.

dedalus on April 16, 2010 at 9:18 AM

The father of the Constitution issuing a national day of Prayer and Humility

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=3727

jp on April 16, 2010 at 9:51 AM

“Religion, as well as reason, confirms the soundness of those principles on which our government has been founded and its rights asserted.” –Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:283

mwdiver on April 16, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Because they haven’t quite gotten the font right yet for the new motto of “In Obama We Hope… Spare Some Change?”

malclave on April 15, 2010 at 6:06 PM

hehe

mwdiver on April 16, 2010 at 10:44 AM

What an obnoxious concept.

Dave Rywall on April 16, 2010 at 11:26 AM

But are now forbidden to even offer up non-demoninational prayers in a public setting. Further pushing prayer and the religious into the backrooms of America.

Skywise on April 15, 2010

That’s because we don’t have catacombs anymore. We don’t have arenas full of lions either, but I’m still nervous.

Extrafishy on April 16, 2010 at 11:33 AM

The new state religion is secular humanism. Atheism is worshipping self or man kind as being the superior deity. I am sure there was a moment of prayer when the towers fell.

This judge is not smart enough to understand she is both biased and pushed a religion.

I would say ignore her.

seven on April 16, 2010 at 11:43 AM

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Which pretty much means that the Obooba Regime is an enemy of God and man.

All men are not created equal, because we have to spread the wealth.

No one has a right to life, because the abortocrats ensure that millions of babies are killed in utero yearly. now they’re going after gramma.

Consent of the governed? I rest my case.

Akzed on April 16, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Related satire: Supreme Court Strikes Down Constitution http://optoons.blogspot.com/2010/04/supreme-court-strikes-down-constitution.html

Mervis Winter on April 16, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Can someone give me a good reason why our federal government should have the power (let alone the desire) to implement \”national day of\”, \”week of\”, or \”month of\” anything?Or is this one of those \”well, better congress doing something silly and useless than doing something with dire consequences\” things?

Count to 10 on April 16, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Can someone give me a good reason why our federal government should have the power (let alone the desire) to implement \”national day of\”, \”week of\”, or \”month of\” anything?Or is this one of those \”well, better congress doing something silly and useless than doing something with dire consequences\” things?

Count to 10 on April 16, 2010 at 12:48 PM
——–
For all the pants wetting Hotair people do about the government telling them what to do, it’s hilarious that now they want the government to tell them when to pray.

Dave Rywall on April 16, 2010 at 12:57 PM

I haven’t read all the comments but I see several references to Jefferson be a non-believer. Anyone who believes that is a total and absolute idiot. The man wrote and kept copies of thousands of letters during his lifetime and anyone who spends 10 minutes reading them, will find him to be a man of faith.

What’s next, Washington an atheist too I suppose? The left knows no boundaries when it comes to re-writing the history of this once-great-country of ours.

I’ve said it before here…I am an atheist and I find this sort of judicial ruling to go against every fiber of what this country was and is supposed to be.

BierManVA on April 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM

He may also have said “God bless you.” A formal signature isn’t tantamount to a theological system.

Also, were the proclamations in Jefferson’s hand or the work of the printer?

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Theological system? What in the hell are you talking about? Neither is a “day of prayer” a “theological system”. You’re not required to pray. You can even pay homage to Darwin if you want to. You know, just like a good little “freethinker” (funny how all “freethinkers” think exactly alike).

And yes. Jefferson went down to the Eighteenth Centuries equivalent of Kinko’s and those bastards secretly added “Christ” in TJ’s own signature.

If you want to legally incorporate the group, the government will let you accept tax-deductible donations.

dedalus on April 15, 2010 at 9:14 PM

The government will “let” you do something, eh? Let you do something which is specifically enumerated in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Can you not take your atheist-colored glasses off long enough to see the problem with this?

Squiggy on April 16, 2010 at 2:17 PM

I haven’t read all the comments but I see several references to Jefferson be a non-believer. Anyone who believes that is a total and absolute idiot. The man wrote and kept copies of thousands of letters during his lifetime and anyone who spends 10 minutes reading them, will find him to be a man of faith.

BierManVA on April 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM

You’ll also find a belief in a God that is very different from the one defined by Christians. Late in his life, Jefferson’s letters invoke a materialist perspective. While, Jefferson still recognizes a Creator he doesn’t allow for a soul or personal after life.

When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is in the wind. To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart.
–Jefferson to Adams, 1820

dedalus on April 16, 2010 at 2:17 PM

What does everyone do on the other 364 days of the year when it’s not national pray day? Are their rights being stripped on all those days? Are people banned from offering prayer in public on all those days?

Scrappy on April 16, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Theological system? What in the hell are you talking about? Neither is a “day of prayer” a “theological system”. You’re not required to pray. You can even pay homage to Darwin if you want to. You know, just like a good little “freethinker” (funny how all “freethinkers” think exactly alike).
Squiggy on April 16, 2010 at 2:17 PM

I was responding to the contention that Jefferson’s belief in God is evidenced by some government forms, printed by bureaucrats, which he signed. He was a sophisticated thinker who left volumes on his philosophical insights, and there are plenty of personal letters that reflect his thinking.

Most people pray without an act of Congress. Why do you want a legislative body involved with your communication with God? Can’t the private sector handle prayer?

dedalus on April 16, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Can’t the private sector handle prayer?
dedalus on April 16, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Apparently not without permission from an activist judge.

opaobie on April 17, 2010 at 1:16 AM

Apparently not without permission from an activist judge.

opaobie on April 17, 2010 at 1:16 AM

The judge is addressing congressional laws. Churches can and should organize national days of prayer.

dedalus on April 17, 2010 at 11:36 AM

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