Apr 16, 2010 6:43 PM

Judge: Proclamation for National Day of Prayer unconstitutional

The law establishing an annual National Day of Prayer has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.  Judge Barbara Crabb issued the ruling Thursday in a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray.  Crabb's injunction barring such proclamations won't take effect  until appeals are exhausted, so an Obama spokesman says the president will still proclaim this year's observance on May 6.  Obama issued a proclamation last year but didn't hold a public event with religious leaders.

In Colorado Springs Doctor James Dobson says this year's National Day of Prayer on May 6 won't be stopped by the Freedom From Religion Foundation's lawsuit.  His wife, Shirley, is chairman of the National Day of Prayer.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force isa non-profit headquartered in Colorado Springs.  "...this is unconscionable for a free society," said Shirley Dobson, the organization's chairman.

"The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that Congress will not establish a relgion, but also saysthat there will be a freedom of religion for all people and this violates the freedom of religion for all people clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," said Cong. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado).   

The judge said her order does not block prayer day until after the appeals.  President Obama'sspokesman said he'll still hold this year's National Day of Prayer on May 6.

"They can have the initiative all they want and people can pray all they want but you don't codify it and try to make it part of the American government," said Rebecca Hale of the Colorado Springs Free Thinkers. "That's where it becomes a violation."



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