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White House to Appeal
Day of Prayer Ruling

BY TOM STRODE                                                                      ©2010 Baptist Press 

he Obama administration will appeal a federal judge's ruling that invalidated the National Day of Prayer.

The decision was revealed April 22, a day after members of Congress gathered at a Capitol Hill news conference to urge the White House to work vigorously to overturn the decision. Joining the House of Representatives members in calling for action by the Justice Department were the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and other organizations.

Barbara Crabb, a federal judge in Wisconsin, ruled April 15 that a law setting a National Day of Prayer violated the First Amendment's prohibition on government establishment of religion. She said the observance "serves no purpose but to encourage a religious exercise, making it difficult for a reasonable observer to see the statute as anything other than a religious endorsement."

The U.S. Department of Justice informed Wisconsin's Western District Court of its decision to appeal Crabb's ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Seventh Circuit consists of federal courts in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

More than two dozen House members joined together April 21 in support of the National Day of Prayer. Representatives Randy Forbes (Virgina) and Mike McIntyre (North Carolina)—co-chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus—led their colleagues in calling for the Obama administration to file an appeal and in announcing the introduction of House resolutions supporting the annual observance. The representatives expressed sharp disagreement with Crabb's opinion.

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