By Bishop David J. Singleton
The National Day of Prayer is an American right and privilege. In many places around the world, this is an unheard of reality. American history shows the high price we have paid to be able to gather in public places to call on the name of Jesus, the Name that is above every other name. It is a joy and blessing to be able to join others of faith.
That right is constantly challenged. Currently, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (www.ffrf.org ) exists to promote “non-theism” (atheism) and the defense of what they claim is the “constitutional separation between religion and government.” Yet even a cursory reading of the First Amendment shows there is no mention of such a “separation.”
Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (my emphasis); or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, or to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Despite FFRF’s best efforts, the courts have maintained our right to assemble for a National Day of Prayer.
Timeline: October 8, 2008: FFRF Challenges the Presidential Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer – Files Lawsuit
- November 14, 2008: FFRF Challenges the Governor Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer in Colorado – Files Lawsuit
- April 15, 2010: Wisconsin District Judge Barbara Crabb rules the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional
- April 22, 2010: The U.S. Department of Justice filed a notice to appeal the ruling of Judge Barbara Crabb
- October 28, 2010: Colorado District Judge R. Michael Mullins dismisses FFRF lawsuit in Colorado ruling in favor of the Colorado Day of Prayer
- February 7, 2011: FFRF files an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals regarding the decision from District Judge Mullins
- March 15, 2011: FFRF Challenges the Governor Proclamations for the National Day of Prayer in Arizona – Files Lawsuit
- April 14, 2011: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Court overturns ruling by Judge Barbara Crabb ruling 3-0 in favor of the National Day of Prayer
- December 12, 2011: Federal Judge Silver dismisses case against Arizona Governor in favor of the Arizona Day of Prayer
- May 10, 2012: The Colorado Court of Appeals overturns Judge Mullins decision in favor of FFRF
- June 21, 2012: Governor Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals decision to the Colorado Supreme Court
- May 1, 2014: Oral Arguments begin for the Colorado Supreme Court review of the Colorado Day of Prayer
- November 24, 2014: The Colorado Supreme Court renders verdict reversing the Colorado Court of Appeals decision in favor of the Colorado Day of Prayer
Results: The National Day of Prayer wins the Federal, Arizona and Colorado lawsuits.
While our right to gather within our places of worship remains unchallenged, every believer in Jesus Christ, must exercise our right to worship Him publicly and unashamedly. This is a hard won privilege. This is a time to join our hands in prayer across denominational, nondenominational, ethnic and geographic lines, and across those many other barriers that have divided us unnecessarily for so long. Though we may worship differently, and some of our doctrines may differ, we believe and subscribe to the truth that Jesus is Lord of all.
I believe the Body of Christ should stand united for this right. Therefore, we are asking you to take the day off if you can, or at the very least, take a few hours off so that you can participate. I call on pastors to inform their members/parishioners of this day and encourage them to join in glorifying God. Perhaps you may wish to volunteer, help organize or lend assistance, so that this day — May 2, 2019 — operates in a God honoring manner. You are asked to register at www.prayerinitiative.org and get involved by calling 585-340-7027. Your registration helps us in planning the event and activities of that day.
Many of you know when David saw how Goliath taunted the armies of Israel, he asked, “Is there not a cause?” I believe that we, the Body of Christ, have a cause to defend. Is there any better time than now?
If you agree, go to www.prayerintiative.org and register for the National Day of Prayer gathering in downtown Rochester, NY or call 585-340-7027. Let’s meet at 11:00 AM on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 30 Church Street, Rochester City Hall.