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WASHINGTON – Atheists who oppose prayer and other religious elements in presidential inaugurations have lost a case in a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to stop Barack Obama from using the words “so help me God” when he took the oath of office last year. Those who sued also wanted to stop ministers from saying prayers at Obama’s inauguration and wanted the court to eliminate religion from future inaugurations.
Two judges said it is too late to act on Obama’s inauguration and the court cannot block religious elements at future events when the participants are not yet known. The third judge says long-standing practices such as prayers and the oath of office are constitutional.

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