Group Opposes National Day of Prayer

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Thursday marked the National Day of Prayer, a day that's been formally recognized by the government since 1952.

But despite a good turn-out by religious groups at events all over Colorado Springs, the day itself has become somewhat controversial.

The National Day of Prayer was observed by churches, some students at high schools, and even by religious groups gathering at City Hall. "This is happening all over the country," says Bill Cole, the pastor at Circles of Love Bible Church, who helped organize the city hall gathering. "We're all coming together, sharing a unified spirit."

But another conversation is brewing about whether there should be a national day for prayer at all.

"The problem with the National Day of Prayer is the word national. 'Our nation's'. It's not," says John Patrick Michael Murphy, a life member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. "They're not getting me to pray today or yesterday or tomorrow. And I'm a tax payer with the same rights as they have."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation placed billboards throughout Colorado Springs calling for a clear separation of church and state. They particularly targeted the Springs because Focus on the Family has a task force dedicated to enforcing the day.

"It's our mission to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer," says Michael Calhoun of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "Mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership, in the areas of military, media, education, church and family."

Murphy says he's not against a group's right to pray on a specific day, he just opposes his tax dollars being used for something he doesn't believe in. "They're doing it on our ground, on our time, on our dollar, and that's despicable."

An April 15th ruling by a district judge in Wisconsin calls the day unconstitutional. The suit was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the ruling is being appealed.

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