How We Ended the National Day of Prayer

By David Swanson

I’m at the American Humanists Assoc. conference in San Jose at which Annie Laurie Gaylor is recounting how her Freedom from Religion Foundation won a court order requiring the president to end the National Day of Prayer.

I’m here to speak about peace and humanism. We’ll see how it goes. Apparently peace is a majority but not universal value among “humanists”.

Gaylor is here to receive an award as a Humanist Heroine, which I think is well deserved.

The case began with a complaint from an individual in Wisconsin about state funds being used to promote a prayer event with a state supreme court justice. When FFRF looked into it, they decided that the people to sue were President George W Bush and his press secretary and Shirley Dobson.

Eventually President Obama became the defendant. His lawyers deposed Gaylor for a full day, together with the religious lawyers, and at the end of a tiring day badgered her with quick yes-no questions about Columbus Day: Did she know there was one? Did she know some people objected to it? Did she know the president asked everyone to observe it? Etc. And she then pointed out that not only does a Prayer Day violate the establishment clause, but there actually was an historic Columbus.

They quickly won.

Obama has appealed.

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