On April 15, 2010, a federal district court in Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer -- which has been observed annually since it became a law in 1952 -- is unconstitutional.
The law was challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation -- a Madison, Wisconsin-based atheistic organization -- which claimed that the law made atheists feel "excluded, disenfranchised, and deeply insulted" by the day, because they do not believe in God or prayer.
The law gives the president authority to designate the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb decided that the law violates the First Amendment section which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
Fortunately, her ruling does not bar the event until the case is decided on appeal. This year's National Day of Prayer is set for May 6.
Many Christian and other religious groups are furious with the judge's decision, and promise to appeal the case -- even to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. Moreover, the Congressional Prayer Caucus promises it will fight to preserve the law.
The fact is that Judge Crabb's ruling discriminates against the very democratic roots and values upon which this nation was founded, and which it has cherished since its birth. Americans must have the right to worship God, if they so desire; they must not be muzzled by the efforts of any atheistic or other group.
If atheists do not want to pray, so be it, but they must not deny people who believe in God the right to worship or to observe a National Day of Prayer. To quote one law school professor's view of Judge Crabb's decision: "If the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, then the U.S. Constitution itself is unconstitutional."