Governor Jan Brewer and State of Arizona Sued Over "Day of Prayer" Proclamations

A group of Valley freethinkers want Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to stop calling on Arizona residents to pray about the budget or anything else.

Two attorneys and several area residents, all members of the national Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit in federal court this week in hopes of ending proclamations for state prayer days. They want a federal judge to issue an injunction against future proclamations and declare that her previous calls to prayer were unconstitutional.

Brewer proclaimed a "Day of Prayer for Arizona's Economy and State Budget" on January 17, 2010, and then a generic version last April to coincide with the National Day of Prayer held on the first Thursday of May.

One of the attorneys suing Arizona, Richard Morris, says he found the exhortation to pray for the economy "laughable," especially since no help on that front from a Supreme Being is evident.

"The old saying, 'Nothing fails like prayer,' certainly was true," Morris quips.

Morris and his heathen buddies have a good point: These proclamations are clearly unconstitutional and beyond useless. Last year, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, prompting an appeal by the Obama Administration.

Morris and the other attorney on the case, Marc Victor, are working pro-bono. Click here to read the lawsuit, as posted by Courthouse News Service. 

In some respects, a lawsuit to prevent Brewer from asking people to pray seems like a waste of time, on the order of last year's proposed resolution concerning the 1973 coup in Chile?

But not according to Morris. Even if the lawsuit fails, it will promote "an awareness that we have a separation of church and state," he says. "If we don't maintain awareness, we'll end up with a theocracy."

The lawsuit refers to the famous quote by Thomas Jefferson about a "wall of separation between church and state" and uses as an exhibit the 1797 Tripoli Treaty, which states bluntly that the United States "is not in any way founded on the Christian religion."

If you think Morris' slippery-slope argument sounds unrealistic, you've never heard of Justice of the Peace Lester Pearce.

UPDATE: December 12 -- Judge tosses lawsuit, says plaintiffs didn't prove they were injured:

Prayer Day Dismissal Order

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.