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Religious Tolerance logo

Court rules National Day of Prayer is constitutional,
but the government's declaration of NDP isn't

Positive and negative
responses to the court ruling

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Federal government reactions to the court ruling:

  • White House: Shortly after the ruling was made public, the White House sent out a Tweet saying that President "Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer." They did not specify how he plans to do this. In the Spring of 2009, he issued a proclamation for the NDP as required under the law that had not yet been declared unconstitutional.

    The previous year, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation and hosted a White House observance. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), wrote:

    "President Obama is a constitutional scholar, and knows the issues at stake. He couldn't possibly have read the 66-page historic ruling by Judge Crabb 1 at the time of this Tweet." 2

    Later, White House spokesman Matthew Lehrich wrote to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that President Obama would make his 2010 proclamation. He wrote:

    "We have reviewed the court's decision, and it does not prevent the president from issuing a proclamation." 3

  • Justice department: On 2010-APR-22, the Justice Department said that it would appeal the District Court's ruling.

  • Congress: By APR-22, members of Congress had introduced two resolution in an attempt to undercut the decision by the District Court judge.

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Positive reactions to the court ruling:

  • The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote:
    "This decision is a tremendous victory for religious liberty. Congress has no business telling Americans when or how to pray." 3

  • The Center for Inquiry [CFI], a group promoting the secularization of the U.S., applauded Judge Crabb's decision, saying:

    "... CFI believes this ruling represents an important step toward achieving a secular state in which the government takes no position on religious issues, which is one of the purposes of  the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. ..."

    "CFI’s president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay called the decision 'a long overdue recognition by the federal courts that the government should stay out of the prayer business entirely,' adding further that 'determining which religious exercises to engage in—if any—is a matter best left to the conscience of the individual. The government should not tell us to pray—or tell us not to pray. We can decide for ourselves." 4

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Negative reactions to the court ruling:

  • A statement by Joel Oster, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund -- a fundamentalist Christian legal defense organisation -- said:
    "It's important to remember this about the National Day of Prayer: It's America's heritage, and this day belongs to Americans. The court should not have struck down this statute." 5
  • A statement by Jordan Sekulow, attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice, said:
    "It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it. ... This decision runs counter to well-established legal precedent, and we're confident that this flawed decision ultimately will be overturned." 5

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2010-APR-16: Debate on the law creating the NDP:

Megyn Kelly of Fox News and Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United debated the constitutionality of the law creating the Day of Prayer. It is difficult to follow in some places becuase Ms. Kelly kept interrupting Rev. Lynn, and it is difficult to separate their voices:


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References used:

This information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still valid today.

  1. "Opinion and order 08-cv-588-bbc," 2010-APR=15, 66 pages, at:
  2. David Gibson, "National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, Judge rules," Politics Daily, 2010-APR-16, at:
  3. "Wis. Judge Strikes Down National Day of Prayer ," AOL News, 2010-APR-17, at:
  4. "CFI applauds ruling striking down National Day of Prayer," Center for Inquiry, 2010-APR-16, at:
  5. "Wis. Judge Strikes Down National Day of Prayer," AOL News, 2010-APR-17, at:
  6. "Barry Lynn debates the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer with Megyn Kelly on Fox News," Americans United, 2010-APR-16, at:

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Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian history, etc > Prayer > NDP > Constitutionality > here

Home > Christianity > History, beliefs... > Practices > Prayer > NDP > Constitutionality > here

or Home > Spiritual topics > NDP > Constitutionality > here

or Home > Religious information > NDP > Constitutionality > here

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2010-APR-16
Most recent update: 2010-APR-23
Author: B.A. Robinson
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