A Christian legal group, which is defending the National Day of Prayer Task Force against a lawsuit by an atheist group, has launched a campaign to rally support for the annual prayer day.
Last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer - an annual event observed on the first Thursday of May, after it was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.
The suit alleges that presidential and gubernatorial proclamations of National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause's separation of church and state.
Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, is also named as a defendant in the suit.
ADF has agreed to defend the National Day of Prayer Task Force in the case should it ever be accepted by the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
A video on ADF's "Save the National Day of Prayer" Web site compares FFRF to ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), claiming that both have been relentless in their drive to silence public expression of faith. The FFRF is known for its "Imagine No Religion" billboards and for insisting that its anti-religious sign celebrating the "Winter's Solstice" be included in a Christmas display at the Washington State Capitol.
"This lawsuit is just another stark example," states the video.
"What many of these people who ascribe and claim that they are for free speech really want to do is shut off the speech of others. They want to silence the voice of the Christian from the public square," Alan Sears, president and general counsel of ADF, says.
The NDP Task Force, which is privately funded, represents "a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible," according to the organization's Web site.
Sears suggested that the atheist group has brought the suit now because they think this is a "vulnerable time" and because they are hoping that the person elected to office, President Barack Obama, be less committed to protecting the nation's prayer and faith traditions than the former president.
ADF is asking Americans to support the National Day of Prayer by sending a note of encouragement of Shirley Dobson and writing a letter urging President Barack Obama to uphold the NDP by issuing a presidential proclamation.