MADISON (WKOW) - This year's National Day of Prayer could be the country's last. That's because a federal judge based in Madison ruled the day unconstitutional.
The news cheered Freedom From Religion Foundation co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, one of six plaintiff's in the lawsuit.
"We think every American should realize that if the president can tell you to pray and what to pray about that crosses the line," she said. "If there can be a national day of prayer, there can also be a national day of blasphemy."
Judge Barbara Crabb said the day crossed the line between church and state.
"It's an affront to the constitution, and it's an injury to those of use who don't pray because it seems to equate piety with good citizenship," Gaylor said.
In 1952 Congress passed a law requiring the president proclaim one day each year as a national prayer day. In 1988 the law was amended to make it the first Thursday in May.
In her ruling Crabb said the law goes beyond mere acknowledgement of religion by encouraging Americans to pray. She compared it to the government encouraging fasting during Ramadan, or encouraging people to visit sweat lodges.
"It is altogether appropriate the president calls us to prayer as a nation."
That's Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action Inc., which promotes Judao-Christian principles and values.
She said Crabb's comparison to Ramadan and other religions was "far-fetched."
"This nation was founded on Judao-Christian principles and values, and that's why it's appropriate for the tradition to continue," she said. "We were not founded according to Muslim law. We were not founded according to Muslim religion. Muslims were not the founding fathers of our nation."
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