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President Obama has issued a proclamation declaring this Thursday as National Day of Prayer.

In his proclamation, he states that prayer has long been an important part of U.S. history. The nation upholds as fundamental principles the exercise of religion and freedom of conscience, he said. Thus Americans have long considered it “fitting and proper” to publicly observe the importance of prayer on May 6.

“On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation,” said Obama in the proclamation. “Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation.”

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The National Day of Prayer was officially created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, and signed into law by President Harry Truman. Since 1952, every president has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

In April, however, federal judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional because it amounts to a call for religious action. Crabb ruled in favor of Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics, that filed the lawsuit in October 2008.

FFRF had originally filed the lawsuit against President George W. Bush and Dana Perino, his press secretary, among others. But the lawsuit has since been changed so that President Obama and Robert Gibbs are among the defendants.

The Obama administration said it intends to appeal Crabb’s decision.  Crabb said her ruling will not bar National Day of Prayer activities until all appeals have been exhausted

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