USA (MNN) — On May 6, Americans can observe the National Day of Prayer, despite a federal district court judge's ruling. Last Thursday, the Justice Department set into motion plans to appeal the ruling that makes the NDP unconstitutional, according to the Wall Street Journal.
On April 15, Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the day violated the First Amendment because it supported the establishment of a national religion.
However, evangelist Sammy Tippit of Sammy Tippit Ministries said, "The National Day of Prayer is a proclamation by the president of the United States to encourage people to pray. It does not say that any one has to pray, or pray according to a certain religion or religious group."
People who observe the day do so out of free choice, and Crabb's ruling has many wondering: since when has free participation been unconstitutional?
Atheists, agnostics and religious advocates have all joined the debate. Religious individuals do not want their rights taken away, and atheists and agnostics oppose the day, mostly because they think the country could be spending their money on something else, according John Bornschein, executive director of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell said in the Dayton Daily News, "I don't observe the day, but I think for a lot of people prayer can be powerful and therapeutic. I think it's an individual decision to pray or not. It's not like the government is mandating everyone [to] go out and pray."
Since George Washington, U.S. presidents have made this proclamation, just as Barack Obama plans to do next week.
With this appeal in process, Tippit said even if it does not go through, Christians should remember, "Hope for this country does not lie in the White House but in the church house."
If nothing else, this ruling has put prayer on the national agenda, as well as reminded Christians just how important it is.
Tippit said, "I think that the Christian church needs to sit down and take a hard look at where we are and what we've done … and what kind of ground we've lost in recent years. It seems as though in our country we're moving backward in relationship to what prayer means to this country and what prayer means to our lives."
If this happens, it could even spark a revival: "We need to mobilize ourselves in our business places, in our churches, in our communities, to pray and seek the face of God. And if we are forbidden to do that, we just continue on," Tippit said.