National Day of Prayer activities may have more political undertones than usual this year, as religious groups take aim at what they see as President Obama's attacks on religious freedom.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has called for a public day of prayer and fasting, prompting criticism from First Amendment watchdog groups, atheists, and the Houston Clergy Council.
National Day of Prayer activities include speeches and gatherings of many different faiths. Controversial to some, the National Day of Prayer has roots in the earliest days of the nation.
A federal judge last year had struck down as unconstitutional the National Day of Prayer. But on Thursday, a US appeals court ruled that the people who had brought the case lacked legal standing.
President Obama has issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation but will not hold an interfaith observance at the White House, as President Bush did. The administration is appealing a ruling last month that the official day of prayer is unconstitutional.
A federal court ruling that would ban National Prayer Day, written by Judge Barbara Crabb, cites beneficial effects of prayer to the community and individuals. Are those secular benefits enough to save this official designation of a religious exercise?
Franklin Graham had made remarks about Islam that Muslims and others said were insulting. The Pentagon rescinded his invitation to speak at a May 6 event.
US District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion.