JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Missouri has joined 28 other states in asking the 7th Circuit to reverse a ruling that the law creating a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. In an amicus brief, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster cited a long list of presidents who have called for, and participated in, the prayer days.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation won its appeal in the Western District of Wisconsin at Madison.
On appeal to the 7th Circuit, the states claim that George Washington was the first president to designate a day for prayer and thanksgiving, say that and nearly every president has followed suit.
“This case is controlled by Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), where
the Supreme Court held that a legislature can hire a person for the express purpose
of giving a prayer,” the brief states. “In Marsh, the Supreme Court rejected the same simplistic argument espoused by Plaintiffs here – that the government’s involvement with prayer must violate the Establishment Clause because it implicates the state with a religious practice (prayer).”
Koster said in a statement: “There is nothing in the National Day of Prayer statute that would require prayer. However, the statute recognizes the importance of prayer in our nation, as did Benjamin Franklin when the framers of the Constitution reached an impasse, and he proposed that Congress adjourn for two days to seek divine guidance.”
Koster said the attorneys general believe that the district court ruling casts doubt on state laws that provide for a day of prayer and may call into question the traditional states’ practice of issuing proclamations for special days of prayer during times of difficulty or tragedy.