A bill by state Rep. Chip Limehouse to establish an official day of prayer in South Carolina received key approval in the House on Wednesday. The state prayer day would be held the first Thursday in May.

Limehouse, R-Charleston, filed the bill out of protest from a ruling earlier this month by a federal judge in Wisconsin who ordered that the National Day of Prayer set for May 6 was unconstitutional.

"I think it's important for us here in South Carolina to make a strong and firm statement that, that's not the way we do things here," Limehouse said. He called the judge's actions "overreaching."

"All we're doing is reaffirming that prayer is important," he said. "South Carolina supports and promotes prayer. I am not concerned with a lawsuit. One may come and when and if one does, we'll let our courts and our attorney general handle that."

The bill needs a final vote in the House before it goes to the Senate for consideration.

The ruling made in Wisconsin can't take effect until all appeals are exhausted, according to The Associated Press.

Congress established a national prayer day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the official day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. Many state and local officials already follow suit on that day.