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May 6, 2010 1:55 PM by Ariel Wesler

National Day of Prayer sparks nationwide controversy

Today marks the annual National Day of Prayer, a federally-recognized day that is drawing new controversy this year over its constitutionality. Last month, a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin ruled that the event, first established by Congress in 1952, is unconstitutional.

The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by a group of atheists and agnostics, who say the government does not have the right to tell them to pray.

Many lawmakers are outraged and say the ruling goes against America's religious tradition. They're urging the Obama Justice Department to appeal. The Obama administration says it's simply acknowledging the role of religion in American life.

A National Day of Prayer event is being held at the Santa Maria Fairpark this morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Several community leaders and politicians are expected to attend.

KSBY's Ariel Wesler will have more on this story tonight at 5 and 6.

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