Colorado Day of Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional

In a unanimous ruling issued on May 10, 2012 (pdf), three judges on the Colorado Court of Appeals declared  Colorado’s state-endorsed “Day of Prayer” unconstitutional. The court found that the Colorado Day of Prayer violates the Preference Clause of the Religious Freedom section of Colorado’s constitution which states, “…[n]or shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.” The Preference Clause is Colorado’s equivalent of the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution. In a 74-page ruling, the Court concluded Colorado’s Day of Prayer is religious in purpose and content, lacks any secular purpose and its only purpose is to advance religion and give “preferential treatment to religion in general.” The Day of Prayer, said the Court, “conveys or attempt to convey a message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred.”  The First Amendment requires all levels of government to be completely neutral in matters of religion. “By requiring this neutrality,” the Court states, “the Preference Clause protects believers and nonbelievers from feeling as if they are ‘not fully accepted within our greater community.’ A reasonable observer would conclude that these proclamations [declaring state-sanctioned Days of Prayer] send the message that those who pray are favored members of Colorado’s political community, and that those who do not pray do not enjoy that favored status.” In April, 2010, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional because it amounts to a call for religious action.

  5 comments for “Colorado Day of Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional

  1. The Consitution speaks to the separation of church and state. In other words, issues related to prayer, one way or another, is not to be of any concern of our government. Government is to remain silent and not involved in so-called religious notions. Period.

  2. I just think it’s sad that it takes a Judge to declare it unconstitutional. People can declare a Colorado or a National day of prayer all they want but the government needs to remain neutral in the matter.

  3. As a Humanist/Atheist I am finally rewarded to see the state of Colorado recognize that non believers as well as believers are afforded equal rights under Colorado law dealing with spiritual life.

  4. Damn! It’s looking bad for my bill to declare a National Day of Burning Chicken Feathers.

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