Lewis and Upshur County Delegate Peggy Donaldson Smith has sponsored a bill declaring a West Virginia Day of Prayer. The bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously by a vote of 98-0 with two abstentions, but some groups want to keep it from becoming law.
The new measure would declare the first Thursday in May as West Virginia Day of Prayer. It's been set to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, an event that's been called out in the past, but upheld by federal courts.
"The federal law has been challenged, and the seventh circuit court of appeals, the federal court, declared that those who challenged the law didn't have standing to sue because the national day of prayer had not harmed them," said Smith.
But some groups, like the Secular Student Alliance at West Virginia University, want to stop the passage of the bill, explaining it promotes one religion over all the others.
"It's got major Christian undertones, it's not open to all religions. That's our main issue with it. Of course, separation of church and state comes into play," said Davis.
But Delegate Smith says she'd be happy to see members of other religions participate and exercise their constitutional rights.
"The National Day of Prayer was established to encourage all religions to pray including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Jews. It certainly is open to everybody and of course, people have a first amendment right not to pray," said Smith.
Davis said that would be a step in the right direction, but he and others in the SSA say there are other things the legislature should be paying more attention to.
"Among everything else, our state should be more concerned with what's going on with the water in Charleston right now, and not National Day of Prayer or West Virginia Day of Prayer. That should not be the forefront of our minds right now," Davis said.
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You can find the petition started by the SSA here.
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