Life Marriage & Family Religious Liberty

Arizona Day of Prayer Withstands Legal Attack

Posted in Religious Liberty on: December 13th, 2011
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The tradition of designating an official day of prayer began with the Continental Congress in 1775. Since then, every president, with no exception, has recognized the importance of God in our nation.

So when the Wisconsin-based “Freedom From Religion Foundation” (FFRF) brought their baseless lawsuit against Governor Brewer for declaring the Arizona Day of Prayer, I was confident the state would overcome this challenge.

And thankfully yesterday, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver granted the governor’s request to dismiss this lawsuit.

The Arizona Day of Prayer provides an opportunity for all Arizonans to pray voluntarily according to their own faith – and does not promote any particular religion or form of religious observance.  The First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution allows public officials to acknowledge our nation’s religious heritage, and it’s outrageous that one activist organization has tried to undermine more than two hundred years of American history.

I’m grateful for Governor Brewer for adamantly defending the Arizona Day of Prayer. You can thank her on twitter @GovBrewer.

Posted by Cathi Herrod

Cathi is President of Center for Arizona Policy. As a mom, lawyer and lifelong political junkie, Cathi's passion for the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty stem from seeing how the culture impacts families, and how much public policy influences the culture.

2 Responses

  1. MArc Victor says:

    There is a disturbing trend developing in First Amendment jurisprudence; especially in the area of church and state separation. Notwithstanding the fact that many state sponsored or endorsed religious actions appear to clearly violate the well established parameters of the First Amendment, courts are now routinely dismissing lawsuits for lack of standing. To be clear, these dismissals do not involve a rejection of the constitutional challenge on the merits of the claim. To the contrary, they are simply evasions of the issue altogether. They are technical dismissals resulting in the untenable position that these First Amendment violations are simply unchallengeable by any person. Rather than hear these challenges on the merits and reach the inescapable conclusion that such actions are indeed unconstitutional, many courts have agreed to side step the issue by construing the doctrine of standing so such unconstitutional acts remain safe from constitutional challenge. Courts should be bold enough to hear and decide these challenges on constitutional grounds. Constitutional protections are meaningless if courts construe the law such that no person can invoke those protections.

    In an effort to attempt to have these matters heard on the merits and to validate the notion that constitutional violations can be challenged, our clients have decided to appeal the district court’s dismissal of the Day of Prayer lawsuit. We expect to file an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal very soon. Additionally, another lawsuit will be filed in the state court alleging violations of the state constitution.

    This lawsuit is about the role of government. Our clients remain committed to the notion that prayer is either a private matter or one that can be openly and loudly promoted by any private individual or private company on any private property for any length of time. Any effort by government to inhibit any private person’s right to pray on any non-governmental property would be opposed by all plaintiffs to this lawsuit. However, our clients, those religious and non-religious, remain equally committed to the well established notion that government should neither promote, inhibit nor endorse any religious view. Simply put, government should stay out of religious matters altogether; our constitution forbids it and it is both consistent and indispensible to notions of a free and open society.

  2. Besides the fact that I disagree with the main interpretation of the first amendment that FFRF holds, when it comes to a state day of prayer, I fail to see how this falls under the first amendment clause for the main reason that this is not a law. No government entity has stated that anyone must or even should pray. It is a simple acknowledgement that a majority do want to pray.

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