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Protecting The National Day Of Prayer

By Lisa Krempasky

The national day of prayer is a religious occasion in which the citizens of America are asked to spend the day in prayer and meditation. It falls on the first Thursday in May, and while endorsed by some recent presidents, has been challenged in court by civil liberties groups.

From the time of the earliest European settlers, religion has been an integral part of American life. More people in America are church members than most other western countries and spirituality remains a driving force in society. While the majority are protestants, there are many other faiths.

The idea of having a day of religious observation began prior to the establishment the American nation when the continental congress designated July 20 1775 as an occasion to be marked by prayer and fasting. Early presidents John Adams and Abraham Lincoln both recommended that there be such a day for people to pray for God’s protection and peace.

The day was made official by Harry Truman in 1952, and the national prayer committee was formed in 1982 to co-ordinate the event on a federal state and local level. It has been recognised by the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, and George W. Bush but not by their democratic counterparts, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Opposition to the law was brought before court by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FRFF) in 2008, who claimed that it contravened the First Amendment to the Constitution which prevents the federal government from enforcing religious observances.

Judge Crabb later ruled that the law was unconstitutional, stating that the government couldn’t endorse a particular religious practice, but should instead promote religious freedom. In her statement she said that her ruling in no way questioned the effectiveness of prayer or placed any judgement on citizens who chose to observe the day of their own free will.

The legal proceedings look set to continue for quite some time as there are appeals pending and a final decision is not yet made. The outcome will no doubt cause more dispute as it involves such an emotional issue.

Lisa Krempasky writes on conservative views of faith, politics and political action. Learn more about how to be involved in the National Day Of Prayer

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Krempasky, Lisa "Protecting The National Day Of Prayer." Protecting The National Day Of Prayer. 16 Aug. 2010. 16 Oct 2015 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Krempasky, L (2010, August 16). Protecting The National Day Of Prayer. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Krempasky, Lisa "Protecting The National Day Of Prayer"

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