Hallelujah! A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. It’s about time somebody stood up for non-believers and the separation of church and state.
“In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience,” wrote U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb, in her ruling on a suit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin.
The ruling strikes down the federal statute declaring a National Day of Prayer, saying it violates the constitutional ban on government-backed religion. Proponents of the statute say it doesn’t promote any specific religion. Opponents say it violates their religious freedom to worship or not, and violates the separation doctrine.
To put it another way, how would supporters of the National Day of Prayer feel about a National Freethought Day?
Personally, I think government and religion should always — always — remain separate and distinct. Religion, prayer, and belief (or the absence thereof) are individual matters that should never be addressed by law or dictated by the government, other than to ensure the individual’s freedom.
Recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge, or practice rune magic.
Now if only she could rule on to the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” to our currency.