A U.S. District Court Judge in Madison, Wis., has ruled that the congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer proclamation is unconstitutional. In a ruling issued on April 15, 2010, Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the statute that mandates the presidential proclamation "goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."
Implemented in 1952 by an act of Congress, the National Day of Prayer statute requires the president to designate the first Thursday of the month of May as the National Day of Prayer, during which, according to the statute, "the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals." This year, the National Day of Prayer will fall on May 6.