President Barack Obama is scaling back White House plans for Thursday’s National Day of Prayer even as his administration defends the tradition in federal court in Wisconsin.
Obama’s position has disappointed Christian conservatives, who want the president to do more to mark the day, and an atheist group that wants him to end the tradition.
The Obama administration has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims the day violates the separation of church and state. In a rare alliance, 31 mostly Republican members of Congress and a prominent Christian legal group are joining the administration to fight the lawsuit.
Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray.