- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers Wednesday denounced a federal judge’s recent ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and said they were calling on President Obama to aggressively appeal the decision.

“What brings us together today is a misguided court decision which threatens the longstanding tradition of this country,” said Rep. Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican. “I urge the Obama administration to appeal this decision and to dedicate the best and brightest minds of the Justice Department to this case.”

Mr. Wolf, a co-sponsor of the legislation President Reagan signed in 1988 that designated the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer, also was joined by approximately 30 Republican and Democrat lawmakers from the Congressional Prayer Caucus in issuing a House resolution calling for an appeal of the April 15 decision by a federal judge in Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a suit the group filed in 2008 that contended the day violated the separation of church and state.

The National Day of Prayer “goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context,” Judge Crabb wrote in her ruling. “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”

The Obama administration argued the day is meant only to acknowledge the role of religion in the United States and tried to get the case dismissed. The judge said she will not enforce the ruling until the appeals process is complete.

The administration still plans to issue a proclamation for the day, May 6, which would continue the observance that has been mandated by Congress and the White House since 1953.

Lawmakers and supporters pressed for more vigorous action.

“I understand the power of people getting together to pray,” said former Rep. Tony Hall, Ohio Democrat who appeared with Mr. Wolf at Wednesday’s Capitol Hill press conference. “I’ve been praying for more than 25 years with Democrats and Republicans.

When we have a problem, we pass a bill. Imagine what it would happen in Washington if [we] prayed together. The American people want that.”

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