Several lawmakers have joined a religious rights group in fighting for the continuation of the National Day of Prayer, which is now facing a challenge in court.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit last October claiming the day, started in 1988, "constitutes an unabashed endorsement of religion" by "exhorting each citizen to pray."
In response, the American Center for Law and Justice called that claim "twisted" and filed a brief March 20 asking a Madison, Wis., court to dismiss the case. The appeal was filed on behalf of 31 members of Congress.
"The fact is that a day set aside for prayer for the country is a time-honored tradition woven into the very fabric of our nation," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said. "We're hopeful that the court will take the only action appropriate in this case and dismiss this lawsuit."
Federal law designates the first Thursday in May for the National Day of Prayer. Each year, the event draws more than 35,000 prayer gatherings across the country to pray for the U.S. and its leaders.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, has organized an online petition to stop the pending challenges against the National Day of Prayer.
A previous FFRF lawsuit against former President Bush for his faith-based initiatives was rejected last year by the Supreme Court.
Sources: American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defense Fund, Freedom From Religion Foundation