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Federal judge: National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional

US District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion.

A resident of Dade City, Fla., watched as scores of balloons were released at the end of the annual National Day of Prayer rally, which was held on the steps of the historic Pasco County Courthouse on May 3, 2009.

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A federal judge in Wisconsin declared Thursday that the US law authorizing a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

US District Judge Barbara Crabb said the federal statute violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion.

She issued a 66-page decision and enjoined President Obama from issuing an executive order calling for the celebration of a National Day of Prayer.

The National Day of Prayer was first authorized by Congress in 1952. Since 1988, the date has been set as the first Thursday in May.

The judge stayed her own injunction pending the resolution of any appeals.

“I understand that many may disagree with [my] conclusion and some may even view it as critical of prayer or those who pray. That is unfortunate,” Judge Crabb wrote.

'The government may not endorse a religious message'

“A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant, or undeserving of dissemination,” she said. “Rather it is part of the effort to carry out the Founders’ plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society.”

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