ADF to cities, towns: Threats over Nat’l Day of Prayer are bogus

ADF offers free legal counsel to municipalities in wake of atheist group’s threats over prayer events
Friday, May 04, 2012

ADF attorney sound bite:  Brett Harvey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Alliance Defense Fund is responding to legal threats an atheist group is issuing against towns and cities nationwide over events held in connection with Thursday’s National Day of Prayer.

ADF is offering free legal advice and possible representation to any local governments threatened for honoring the National Day of Prayer, issuing their own prayer proclamations, or simply asking citizens to voluntarily pray for their communities and nation.

“Public officials should be able to recognize public prayer activities just as America’s founders did,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brett Harvey. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation and other groups like them routinely issue legal threats to cities and towns in their quest to scrub the public square free of any trace of religion. The courts have repeatedly disagreed with them because the Constitution requires no such thing.”

“As the U.S. Supreme Court has recently stated, ‘The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society,’” Harvey added.

ADF has long defended the National Day of Prayer, including its defense of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and former spokesperson Shirley Dobson in the lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama. ADF succeeded in having Dobson dismissed from the lawsuit at the district court level before filing a friend-of-the court brief on behalf of the task force at the appellate court level. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected FFRF’s lawsuit and allowed the National Day of Prayer to continue.

In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution by Congress to set aside an annual National Day of Prayer. Congress amended the law in 1988, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, specifying that the annual event would be observed on “the first Thursday in May each year.” In a proclamation issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama officially recognized May 3 as the 2012 National Day of Prayer.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.