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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Federal judge rules National Day of Prayer unconstitutional

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- Prayers will go up on National Day of Prayer in the City of Greencastle. The community will be given an opportunity to gather at Robe-Ann Park and spend about an hour in prayer with local pastors.

Shannon Hammond, an organizer for the local National Day of Prayer, felt God needed to be recognized, not just in Putnam County, but also across the nation.

"We, as a nation, have drifted away from God," Hammond said.

From noon to 1 p.m., pastors from Cornerstone Baptist Church, Fillmore Christian Church, Wellspring Christian Church, Greencastle Christian Church and Campus Ministry at DePauw University will speak for five minutes on a specific topic.

Hammond said topics include the public school system, anti-abortion, elected officials and the future of the country. Following the speeches, gatherers will break into small groups for prayer.

Greencastle won't be praying alone on May 6. President Obama will personally recognize National Day of Prayer; despite a recent lawsuit against his administration resulting in a federal judge ruling it is unconstitutional.

Wisconsin Judge Barbara B. Crabb said the nationally organized day of prayer violated the First Amendment's establishment clause, which bans the creation of a "law respecting an establishment of religion" in the Constitution.

The lawsuit was brought against National Day of Prayer by a group of atheist and agnostics called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis. The group argued it violated the separation of church and state.

The argument presented by Obama's administration was National Day of Prayer was legal because it simply recognized the role of religion in the United States, according to Associated Press.

In a Tweet last week, the White House said that regardless of the ruling, the president still "intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer." The decision does not ban the president from issuing a proclamation, the White House said.

The history of National Day of Prayer took root in 1952 when Congress established it. In 1988, the first Thursday of May was designated at National Day of Prayer. On that day last year, President Obama issued the traditional presidential proclamation, which opened with the line: "Throughout the Nation's history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer."

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SO a judge from Wisconsin has decided that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. On what grounds does this idiot see that this event is UNconstitutional? Let's see the title of the event is not Christian National Day of Prayer or Jewish National Day of Prayer or Allah National Day of Prayer. It is National Day of Prayer which does not advertise one certain religion. Apparently, this leftist loon that sits on the bench should for one be disbarred for not understanding the Constitution of this great nation but should be taken out of her position ASAP!

Furthermore, to this Atheist group of morons please do not refer to this made up phrase of "seperation of church and state" There is no such thing. The founders and framers stated that the government could not endorse any one religion, it did not state that religion could not be part of government. Go back in your hole and leave the rest of us alone! I am not a very religious person but I will be praying tomorrow just to tick off the uneducated judge and atheist group.

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 11:15 AM

Right on Heritage Lake Resident!

It's great that you bring it all in perspective!


-- Posted by mothersue on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 12:55 PM


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-- Posted by cletis on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 1:26 PM

Cletis, thank you for posting Amendment I of the Bill of Rights however I am not sure what your point is? In posting Amendement I you do prove that I am correct in calling this judge in Wisconsin an idiot!

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 1:53 PM

Time will prove the fallacy of all religions. The human specie with a developed imagination has fantasized itself individual and eternal continuance. Humanity has an affinity for dogma so the seemingly securities associated with supernatural divinity to some carries a mythical shelter that the more emotionally inclined find deceptively comforting. "To the common man religion is true. To the wise it is false. To the rulers it is useful." Seneca the Younger

-- Posted by momintum on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 2:36 PM

Heritage-The first amendment was written to separate church and state..Thomas Jefferson who helped write the Declaration stated it this way in 1802:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

The leftist loon you are referring to is not saying don't pray....She is not against religion...She is interpreting the law as it is written. That's her job. Atheists are not morons as you stated but a group of people who choose to question religion, seek answers and make reasonable conclusions. Maybe these conclusions do agree with your beliefs but they still have a right to express them.

You seem angry. Please do pray tomorrow. It will be good for your soul.

-- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 3:19 PM

We can have a day of prayer... If it is advertised or not. We should pray every day - not just because it is a NATIONAL day of Prayer.

-- Posted by luv2bmom2001 on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 3:31 PM

One more thought -

"President Obama issued the traditional presidential proclamation, which opened with the line: "Throughout the Nation's history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer." -- Um, like Praying that HE gets out of OFFICE & quits ruining America!!

-- Posted by luv2bmom2001 on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 3:33 PM

Citizen of the world, it is interesting that you would quote Jefferson an individual who often wrote about a higher being, including in the Declaration of Independence. Throughout our countries history and in many of our most important documents there is reference to a higher being and that we the people get our freedom not from government but from a higher being. Jefferson and many of the other founders were not as you would like to claim building a wall of seperation between church and state. They were insuring that one national religion never materialized and that people would be free to choose their religious beliefs.

If we are to have the thought process of seperation then no political document in US history should reference a higher being. Furthermore, no political leader should ever mention a higher being or thus trying to find guidance from a higher being. This is why the "seperation of church and state" is wrong and nothing but a loony leftist idea.

This judge is not reading the law as it is written because if she was, then she would have thrown out this law suit because it has no merit. She is a leftist loony trying to push a leftist agenda from the bench.

Furthermore, I do not believe that atheist are morons, I said this group was a bunch of morons. Everybody can have their own beliefs i have no problem with that. However, does the National Day of Prayer hurt anyone? Is anybody forced to pray on this day? NO!!! So yes, this group is filled with a bunch of morons.

Lastly, you say that I am angry. A better word would be annoyed!!! I am annoyed by the fact that this country was built and is based upon judeo-christian values and we want to shy away from that. I state again I am not a very religious person but I do understand the history of this great nation. I am annoyed at the fact, that a federal judge would waste my hard earned tax payer dollars hearing a case so absurd!!! What did this decision change? Nothing!!!! So you may say i am angry, I would say I am annoyed and yes I will pray tomorrow!

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 3:50 PM

Luv2bmom2001, I cannot agree with your last post more!! I can't wait for 2012!!!!!! 2010 should be a great year as well!!!

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 3:51 PM

Heritage Lake Resident, you seem to assume that the government always follows its own rules (when you say that if there were church/state separation then references to a higher being would be absent from all political documents). But, sadly, not so. There are plenty of examples, but some having to do with church/state separation are the most obvious. Take the insertion of "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. It is public record that this was done during the Cold War to distinguish us from those godless communists; as such, it was a clear-cut endorsement of theism--i.e., of religion--by Congress.

It is pointless to say that this sort of thing is OK because Congress wasn't endorsing any particular religion. People say the same thing about having "In God we trust" on the money and on the license plates. But the fact is, these are nevertheless endorsements of religion. That's just what the First Amendment forbids.

Besides, come on: the US Congress and the Indiana General Assembly did not have any old god in mind when they made these laws. Don't try to tell me they may have been thinking of Zeus or Vishnu or Allah, or that they really didn't care what religion a person practiced. Clearly it was the Judeo-Christian God. Which, again, makes it an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

And really, you seem to be fine with that. You say this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and you're annoyed that we "shy away" from them--as if we should be even more in line with those principles than we already are. (I must say I'm always puzzled when the members of an overwhelmingly powerful group try to act put-upon by those they dominate.) So while you give lip service to freedom of religion you actually seem to want just what the Constitution forbids: to impose the principles of a particular religion on all Americans, and everybody else just has to put up with it, or go away.

That's why we need a Constitution with a Bill of Rights: to "shy away" from that. God bless that Wisconsin judge.

It is also pointless to say that America has a long tradition of theism. America has lots of traditions, including racism and slavery. I hope no one would say that their being traditional does anything to make them legitimate. The mere repetition of something for many years does not make something right. If it is wrong, then the repetition just magnifies the injustice.

You say that these opponents of the National Day of Prayer are morons, in part because the Day hurts no one. Well, maybe you need to walk in another's shoes for a while. In America, Christian holidays are given great emphasis--and government recognition--already. Until recently, atheists were not allowed to serve as jurors because it was assumed that godless people couldn't be trusted. Even today, declaring yourself an atheist is political suicide in most jurisdictions; to serve the country in politics an atheist is thus forced to become what he has been suspected of being, dishonest. Atheists are, then, discriminated against. Luckily not in the violent sorts of ways they used to be, but still. And the National Day of Prayer is just one more thing, one more way in which our government proclaims that if you're an atheist, if you don't pray, you're not quite one of us. Yes, it's hurtful. As well as unconstitutional.

So yes, gather in Robe-Ann Park and pray all ye praying people. You can, any day and every day; you always could. Just stop expecting to have your government create a special day to encourage it. That's over the line.

-- Posted by Greencastler on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 9:42 PM

Well said Greencastler. It always saddens me how indignant and angry some so-called christians get when they are somehow prevented from imposing their beliefs on everyone else. In some cases I wonder if their protestations are really their way of trying to convince others and maybe themselves of their faith.

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 5:46 AM

Greencastler, let us take your points one by one. The pledge was brought about to seperate us from the nasty communist. I am proud we sepereated ourselves from those nasty communist are you not?

License Plates and money. The license plates are not manditory thus optional, thus not unconstitutional. Nice try! The money referes to a god not the Christian god so yet again not unconstitutional. Nice try again but not close enough. Furthermore, if it hurts you so much to carry around that money, I will gladly carry it for you! Or better yet if it hurts you so much to carry that money use a debit card and stop carrying cash. Man this is too easy!

Ah yes, racism and slavery are comparable to a National Day of Prayer. That is about the most absurd thing I have ever heard.

Christian holidays have great emphasis from the governemnt. That's right, that is why people say Happ Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Easter is spring break or spring holiday.

Greencastler and Volunteer go back and read my early post. I am not a religious person. I do not belong to a chruch or even go to church. I just think this law suit and the many other law suits that different groups have filed are pointless and ridiculuous. Someone does not believe in God fine, you are not forced to pray today or any other day! Yes, god bless that Wisconsin Judge and hopefully soon she will go back and take a Constitutional Law class!

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 9:21 AM

If there can not be a National Day of Prayer because it offends someones religious belief and goes against the Constitution, well then the calendar needs to be cleared. Let us start in January shall we? January 18 is MLK Jr birthday observed, he was a Christian, enough said.

February 15 Presidents'Day and July 4 Independence Day, folks are fighting and arguing over the way the Constitution is written so lets just due away with these days.

February 17 is Ash Wednesday, a religious day, that is a no no.

March 28 Palm Sunday and March 30 is Passover, more religious stuff.

April 2 Good Friday and April 4 Easter, Religion

May 31 Memorial day, folks gather and pray for our Vets that lost their lives to defend the Constitution.

Lets jump to December 2 Hanukkah & 25 Christmas, Jesus Christs birthday. How many people get this day off? Some places shut the plants down for 1 or 2 weeks. How many of these atheist still do a gift exchange and accept holiday pay?

Do you hear anyone complaining for getting time off work and get payed for it? A lot of these dates I mentioned are Payed time off and I have yet to hear a gripe about it. If we made A National Day of Prayer a day off with pay would that shut people up about it?

-- Posted by mad-mom on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 9:48 AM

Heritage Lake Resident, of course I'm glad we distinguished ourselves from communism. We could have done it lots of different ways, like by putting a motto on our money that celebrates our form of government or our economic system. But Congress did it specifically by endorsing religion--with the Pledge, the money, and National Day of Prayer. Unconstitutional.

About the Day of Prayer and slavery, I was just making the point that being traditional does not make something legitimate. Here, let me re-word it for you: America has a lot of traditions. Some of them are great and worthy of the world's admiration, like our protection of freedom and our peaceful transitions of government. Other American traditions, like racism, are horrific. Since some traditions are bad, we can't automatically say that something is legitimate simply because it is traditional. Do you have a problem with that?

As you might expect, I don't have those license plates. And I happen to use my debit card rather than cash most of the time, but that's for convenience and security. I'm personally not especially offended by "In God we trust" on the money or the plates, but I think the legal argument against them is pretty good. Unlike your sarcasm.

Funny. I'm not an atheist. And--despite saying we ought to adhere to Judeo-Christian values--you say you're not religious. So isn't it interesting that the hottest debate on this comment page is between us?

Our real disagreement, then, isn't about religion. It seems to be about how to interpret the law, and about the boundaries of what government may do. So let's focus on that, shall we? It might be more productive.

You seem to think that as long as no one is forced to do something, then the government is allowed to promote it. Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but that's not the way US law has developed. Judge Crabb did not just pull her ruling out of the air (or out of "lefty looniness" to borrow your words) but based it on legal precedent. You may not like the precedent, and for all I know Crabb doesn't either, but there it is: to avoid being struck down as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a law must have a secular and not merely a religious purpose. There is no non-religious purpose to a National Day of Prayer; it does nothing other than promote the religious practice of prayer. So down it goes. (And so, I think, should the motto on the money and the license plates.) This is not a tough call; one does not have to be an "activist" judge to make it; one simply applies existing precedent to the situation at hand.

Unlike you, I guess, I happen to think that precedent is a good one. Using the law in order to do something that only serves religion violates the First Amendment. And I think it doesn't matter whether the "religion" is any particular religion or religion in general: the text of the First Amendment doesn't say "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of *any specific* religion." It doesn't say that Congress is only forbidden to promote religion by coercing people.

And as for something being OK as long as it's not forced, let's try this. Suppose Congress set up lavish Zoroastrian temples in every town, with swimming pools and spas that only Zoroastrians could enjoy. Suppose they declared Zoroastrian holidays and eliminated all federal holidays not consistent with Zoroastrian beliefs. Imagine they offered a free house and a fancy car to anyone who converted to Zoroastrianism, and refused to recognize or support any other religion. Imagine they set up special schools--K-12 and colleges and universities--with the best facilities and the most highly-qualified teachers, which anyone could attend for free, but only if they were Zoroastrians. If they said nobody *had* to go convert or celebrate these holidays, they wouldn't be forcing anybody to be Zoroastrian.

Honestly: would you be OK with that? And would you say that the First Amendment allows it?

-- Posted by Greencastler on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 11:44 AM

mad-mom, I wouldn't say that something should be forbidden by law because it offends someone's religious beliefs. That would be using the law to give religious beliefs special status. I've been saying that's what the First Amendment doesn't allow.

As for the holidays, the *legal* question is whether there is anything other than a religious purpose to them. I'm not talking about days like Ash Wednesday, but about holidays set aside by law. Sure MLK was Christian, but he is honored for advancing civil rights and peace and not (just) for his religion. Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc. may be recognized, by some people, by religious practices but they are not religious holidays. As for Hannukah, it's interesting you mention that: while Christmas is a federal day off, Hannukah (and Ramadan, etc.) get no similar recognition. There's Christian bias in the law again.

As a practical matter, I bet you're right that if we got a paid day off on the National Day of Prayer the complaints would be fewer. But there'd still be a legitimate complaint, as I've been explaining to Heritage Lake Resident.

-- Posted by Greencastler on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 12:02 PM

Greencastler, you must be an atheist, and as far as i am concerned, i don't care what you are. Heritage lake is so right in everything they have said. What makes me annoyed is how one handful of non-believers try to change everything this country has had set in place for many years and just because they don't believe in something they file these frivolous lawsuits to make a statement. I am very offended that my rights as an American are being questioned and violated by the liberals of this country. If you don't like something, so be it, but move on, like i have. I am sick and tired of having to be politically correct and worry about offending some people because i don't agree with their agendas. So Heritage Lake person, keep on going and know that you have more support with what you say then not. I hope eventually the liberals will get knocked out of office and this country can be restored to our great American country it used to be and not a country that is going down the tubes really fast.

-- Posted by magoo55 on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 12:35 PM


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I posted this article of the Constitution because it is the only mention of religion in the Constitution. I wanted to see how you posters would interpret the language and for you to see what the judge was interpreting. To me,as regards religion, it requires the Congress to remain silent, and to not interfere with the voluntary practice of religion by the citizenry.

Rather than just calling the judge an idiot tell me how you read this language. Also tell me if you would feel comfortable with the Congress prescribing a religion or commenting on how it should be practiced or when it should be practiced.

Is it not difficult to make any religious statement without favoring one establishment over another?

Another topic I would like to see developed is the description of the " restoration to our great American country it used to be". What does that mean to you? By the way I personally think this is still one of the best countries and I am not an atheist.

-- Posted by cletis on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 3:40 PM

Well, magoo55, I'm glad you realize that my spiritual belief or lack of it is irrelevant. The rest of what you say mystifies me and I hope you're willing to clarify it.

Like cletis, I wonder what exactly you want "restored" in America. What is it about how things used to be that you think is now missing? You didn't say.

You talk about things that were "set in place for many years"--like what? If you've read anything I've written you know I think tradition and time don't count as much as justice. If you disagree, I'd like to hear why.

You say you don't like having to be politically correct and worried about offending others. Who says you have to? As far as I can tell, none of us does. None of us ever did. Political correctness is not required. Offending others isn't illegal; much of it is constitutionally protected speech. So again, what exactly are you complaining about?

In particular, what are you complaining about that has anything to do with the National Day of Prayer? You seem to think your rights are being violated by the people who filed the lawsuit against it--what rights were those, precisely?

-- Posted by Greencastler on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 5:46 PM

Greencastler, you are correct in stating that we have differing views of how the constitution should be read and interpreted. Cletis the way I read the first amendment is as such: I believe what the framers set in place was to stop the government from endorsing or forming a state ran religion. This is what they had to deal with from the mother country England. They in my opinion did not believe that religion played no part in government, what they were trying to stop was what I stated before which is government control of religion. In my opinion the National Day of Prayer is no unconstitutional, because it does not endorse one religion or force people to participate.

Greencastler, to answer your question about the example you laid out my response is that we already have that. It's called welfare, bailouts and handouts. I'm surprised the federal government has not become it's own religion.

Furthermore, greencastler, I understand what you are saying however we are going to have to disagree. I do not believe that the pledge, money, license plates, day of prayer are unconstitutional. Furthermore and correct me if I am wrong but I believe the supreme court has ruled before that as far as the money and pledge go they are constitutional but once again I could be wrong.

One last point, 50 years ago we did not have kids going into schools with loaded guns trying to kill fellow classmates and teachers. Now we can look at the increase in divorce, kids growing up without father, parents just not being parents as part of the reason for this. There is in my opinion one other reason and that is that we took prayer out of schools. Now I know with that last comment you may find it really hard to believe that I am not a religious person but I am not. I just know that religion whether you like it or not teaches respect of others, treating people right and fairly and being a good person. I agree that government should not endorse one religion over the other. However, there is a place for religion within the confines of government and it is not unconstitutional.

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Thu, May 6, 2010, at 8:18 PM

WHY do Christians want to encourage public prayer, especially during governmental meetings, in public schools, on military bases etc. when their own scriptures state:

Matthew Chapter 6 vs5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words."

Are they embracing "hypocrisy" or declaring themselves "heathen"??

-- Posted by ledotter on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 12:04 AM

What many fail to realize is that atheism or the belief in no god is in and of itself its' own religion. It is a hypocritical religion as are most of the worlds religions. As was stated in an earlier post, show me the atheist who refuses to accept holiday pay or the day off for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter.The sad thing about this country is that the legal system caters to two things, the "squeaky" wheel and the almighty dollar. In the last several decades the small radical and vocal minorities have garnered the media attention while the great "silent" majority have remained apathetic. The Constitution dictates that all Law should be clear, unambiguous and written in language that the common man can understand. The concept of "precedent" was unheard of when the Constitution was first put to paper.

-- Posted by exhoosier2 on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 8:07 AM

eshoosier2, The concept of "precedent" was unheard of when the Constitution was first put to paper.

Article III of the constitution vests all judicial power in one supreme court. The Supreme Court administers all Federal Courts and other courts such as local, state etc. must follow its precedent or the Supreme Court will overturn the lower courts decision. Precedent or "stare decisis" is based on the English Common Law that was administered in early colonial America. So from day one of the adoption of our Constitution precedent has been the rule of law. Its reason for existence basically is that it helps insure that the same facts will be judged the same way over time and region and produce equal justice. Type in "Common Law" in Wikipedia if you would like a more detailed and articulate explanation.

While I agree with the tone and ideas of other parts of your post I felt I had to respond to the notion that precedent in the law was some new-fangled notion just recently thrust upon us.

-- Posted by cletis on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 11:31 AM

Well done! Probably one of the most spirited, well thought out debates to ever grace the comment section of the Banner. Most respectful, which lends credibility to any argument.

While I'll refrain from entering into the fray, as I know not what my comment would add to this discussion, I will leave you with a favorite quotation from the great Thomas Jefferson as written to William Johnson in 1823....

"On every question of construction (let us) carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

-- Posted by Thomas Paine on Sun, May 9, 2010, at 9:00 AM

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