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Atheists Sue President Over National Prayer Day

The nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics is suing President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Friday in U.S. district court, arguing that the president's mandated proclamations calling on Americans to pray violates a constitutional ban on government officials endorsing religion.

The day of prayer, held each year on the first Thursday of May, creates a "hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders," the lawsuit said.

The national proclamation issued this year asked God's blessings on our country and called for Americans to observe the day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is named in the suit because he is one of 50 governors who issued proclamations calling for the prayer day. The foundation is based in Madison.

Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and White House press secretary Dana Perino also are named.

The foundation has filed numerous lawsuits in recent years, including one rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court last year that attacked President Bush's faith-based initiative.

The White House and Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner had no comment on the lawsuit. A message seeking comment from the task force was not returned Friday.