March 16, 2011; Source: Tucson Citizen | A Wisconsin-based nonprofit is seeking help from a higher power to stop Arizona Governor Jan Brewer from routinely issuing proclamations that seek divine intervention to solve the state's problems. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed suit in federal court for an injunction that would prohibit Gov. Brewer from creating any more special state prayer days and similarly declare her past proclamations unconstitutional.
The governor proclaimed January 17, 2010 as a Day of Prayer for Arizona's Economy and the State Budget and then a second Arizona Day of Prayer last April to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday of May. Marc Victor, the lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and three Maricopa County residents, says his clients have no argument with people's right to pray but that in this case it is "completely inappropriate for the governor to be declaring days of prayer." Victor adds that the suit is intended to see that the "right thing done," which means "keeping government out of everyone else’s business.”
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Although not commenting on the specifics of the case, a spokesman for Gov. Brewer told the Tucson Citizen the state would vigorously defend what it believes is its right to declare prayer days. “Public calls to prayer are an honored American tradition dating back to George Washington,” said Matthew Benson. "I think in these days of fiscal crisis, there is nothing wrong with Arizonans, if they choose, praying for the wisdom to solve the problems facing the state.” It's a good bet that each side hopes the other doesn't have a prayer's chance of prevailing.—Bruce Trachtenberg