Resolution Seeks Appeal on Day of Prayer Ruling

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Almost two dozen members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, came together Wednesday to issue a resolution calling on the Obama Administration to strongly appeal the recent ruling by a Wisconsin federal judge declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

The members of Congress say they are willing to take the legal fight all the way up to the Supreme Court.

It was Congress in 1952 that designated the National Day of Prayer as a time to "turn to God in prayer and meditation."

Now, it is current members of Congress who are trying to save the tradition.

Click play for comments from Michael Calhoun of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, following this report.

"This decision is not representative of a vast majority of Americans regardless of their faith or even their non-faith," Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes said.

Forbes, Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and Democrat Ambassador Tony Hall are rallying bi-partisan support for the National Day of Prayer in the wake of the Wisconsin ruling against it.

"The key phrase here it says on which the people of the United States may, m-a-y, may turn to God in prayer and meditation," North Carolina Congressman Mike McIntyre said. "And when you think about that, that's not forcing anybody. The last time I heard that you may do something, that's not you shall, that's you may."

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the government in 2008 under President Bush, claiming the National Day of Prayer violated the separation of church and state.

The Obama administration asked the judge to dismiss the case, but she didn't.

The suit was updated and amended before U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who ruled, "It's because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community, that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray."

Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He said, "The United States Congress has no business, no authority, and frankly not a great deal of talent, in telling people how to be better Americans."

Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus are challenging the ruling, saying it's discrimination against America's foundation.

"This judge basically says that her opinion is more important than the historical statements and actions of the people who drafted the Constitution," Forbes said.

This year's observance is set for May 6th, with millions of people expected to participate around the country, and this legal fight may just be one of the things they pray about.

 

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