October 14, 2008

FFRF Sues Bush Over National Day of Prayer

FFRF BillboardImage via WikipediaThe Madison, WI, based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed suit in federal court against President Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, and others for unlawful promotion of religion. In designating a National Day of Prayer, the suit alleges, President Bush has violated the U.S. Constitution by endorsing religion. According to the Associated Press, the suit also claims that the annual day of prayer creates a "hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders." I applaud the FFRF's efforts in bringing this suit.

What exactly is the National Day of Prayer, and how might it violate the Establishment Clause? According to the AP article:
The national proclamation issued this year asked God's blessings on our country and called for Americans to observe the day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.
I have trouble seeing how asking Americans to observe the day with prayer can be anything other than a form of promoting religion. I suppose that the suit may turn on whether the law is interpreted as prohibiting only the promotion of one specific religion or whether it applies to the promotion of religion in general.

I do not expect such a lawsuit to be successful, especially not after the Bush administration has been busy packing the courts with "true believers." Still, I think that suits like this can be effective in generating some public discussion about matters which we should all take seriously.

Here in America, it feels like much of the wall between church and state has been eroding over the last 8 years. We are coming closer and closer to having something which seems an awful lot like a state religion. It is unlikely that we can reverse these trends without greater public awareness.

The FFRF is America's largest organization of nonbelievers, and one I am proud to support with membership. While it is true that they are more active in the state of Wisconsin than anywhere else, it seems that they are increasingly making their presence known in other states and on the national stage. If you are looking for an organization to support which effectively represents atheists, I encourage you to consider the FFRF.

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