RELIGION

Nonbelievers' challenge to House prayers allowed to proceed

A federal judge in Pennsylvania is keeping alive a lawsuit by nonbelievers who want to be allowed to give invocations at the start of state House sessions.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner ruled Friday the case will continue on the claim that the practice violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution's First Amendment, prohibiting the establishment of religion by the government.

The judge says that part of the lawsuit argues the policy favors believers in God over nonbelievers and excessively entangles the House in religious judgment.

He dismissed portions of the case that alleged violations of people's right to free speech, free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law.

A spokesman for the House majority Republicans says the practices began 335 years ago and they believe they're constitutional.