(CN) – Colorado’s Day of Prayer proclamations violate a constitutional bar on a religious preference, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled.
On remand, the Denver-based trial court could order an injunction to avoid “irreparable harm.”
The Freedom from Religion Foundation and four of its Colorado members filed suit over honorary proclamations that the governor made between 2004 and 2009, declaring the first Thursday in May to be a state day of prayer.
Judge R. Michael Mullins ruled that the proclamations did not violate the Colorado Constitution, but the appeals court found otherwise.
“Because of the explicit references to, and sole focus on, prayer, the six proclamations are distinguishable from the forms of ‘ceremonial deism’ used to solemnize certain governmental proceedings that do not violate the establishment clause,” Judge Steve Bernard wrote for a three-member panel.
“The purpose of these proclamations is to express the governor’s support for their content; their content is predominantly religious; they lack a secular context; and their effect is government endorsement of religion as preferred over nonreligion,” the May 10 decision states.
The judges noted their decision pertains only to the annual Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations from 2004 to 2009, and does not reflect on the National Day of Prayer.
President Harry Truman started the National Day of Prayer in 1952, and President Ronald Reagan set the first Thursday in May as its date in 1988.