Colorado Day of Prayer ruled unconstitutional
DENVER, Colorado: A Colorado state appeals court has ruled that the Colorado Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday of May each year, is unconstitutional. The ruling, issued May 10, 2012, by a three-judge panel, stated that the Day violates the Constitution’s provisions for religious liberty. “[It undermines] the premise that the government serves believers and nonbelievers equally,” wrote Judge Steve Bernard in a 73-page decision.
The court reviewed six Colorado Day of Prayer proclamations issued between 2004 and 2009, and determined that they were “predominately religious” and thus gives the effect of government endorsing religion over non-religion, according to the decision. The six proclamations were issued by former Governors Bill Ritter and Bill Owens, and include various biblical verses.
The legal challenge was made in 2008 against then-Governor Ritter by Freedom from Religion Foundation, an organization based in Wisconsin.
The appeals court has sent the case back to the original trial court to determine whether a permanent injunction is in order. The decision, however, notes that the court did not consider the National Day of Prayer proclamations issued by the United States President in their decision, and that people are still free to pray.