State Capitol News
3:24 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Judge Refuses to Block Governor's Day of Prayer

In her ruling, Judge Eileen Willett did not address the various arguments that such a declaration is an improper action by the government into religion. Instead, the judge concluded that the challengers have not shown -- quote -- a direct injury -- which would entitle them to sue. But attorney Richard Morris said the judge ignored the fact that the plaintiffs include not just those who do not believe, but those of various religions who do not want to be urged by the governor to pray.

"They feel they're on the outside of this," Morris said. "You've got to be on the inside clique of, in this case, the governor's brand of Christianity. Otherwise the government's discriminating against you. And this goes back to the wall of separation. You've got to have a complete separation between church and state."

But gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said that misses the point.

"These days of prayer are voluntary occasions," Benson said. "And they're an opportunity for Arizonans of every race, creed and color to come together seeking wisdom from a higher power, whomever that power may be."

And Benson said those who do not believe are free not to participate. Morris said he think the judge got it wrong and has vowed to appeal.