Judge Rejects Suit Against Nat'l Day of Prayer

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A Denver district court judge has ruled that Colorado's governor's support for the National Day of Prayer does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

In 2008, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued Gov. Bill Ritter and the Rocky Mountain State, arguing the governor's National Day of Prayer proclamations violate the First Amendment.

Judge R. Michael Mullins dismissed the case, saying the proclamations do not encourage Coloradans to pray or not to pray, but merely assert their right to practice religion.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. The Obama administration has appealed that ruling.

Governors across the country issue proclamations for the National Day of Prayer, established by a 1988 federal law as the first Thursday in May.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation told the Chicago Tribune that her group sued the state of Colorado in 2008 because the National Day of Prayer Task Force is based in Colorado Springs.

Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Founder James Dobson, is the task force chairwoman.

The foundation will likely appeal the Denver court's decision, Gaylor told the newspaper.

"I do not think that under state law in Colorado the governor has the right to exhort citizens to pray," she said.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers praised the judge's ruling.

"I was pleased to see the judge's well reasoned and persuasive order upholding this commonplace practice," Suthers said in a written statement.

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