Thursday, May 07, 2015

Today Is the Official National Day of Prayer

A federal statute, 36 USC Sec. 119, requires the President to issue a Proclamation each year designating the first Thursday in May as "a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."  This year's Proclamation (full text) which this morning is on the National Day of Prayer Task Force website, but not yet on the White House website, reads in part:
When women and men of all backgrounds and beliefs are free to practice their faiths without fear or coercion, it bolsters our religious communities and helps to lift up diverse and vibrant societies throughout our world. In America, our Nation is stronger because we welcome and respect people of all faiths, and because we protect the fundamental right of all peoples to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and discrimination. Today, as we pause in solemn reflection, we celebrate the religious liberty we cherish here at home, and we recommit to standing up for religious freedom around the world.
In recent years, the National Day of Prayer has become increasingly controversial as the private National Day of Prayer Task Force has emphasized a Christian-themed program and the White House, particularly under Barack Obama, has attempted to make the event more inclusive. (See prior posting.) The Washington Post carried an opinion piece yesterday making a similar point titled Let’s stop pretending we’re being inclusive on the National Day of Prayer. This year's National Observance planned by the Task Force will be held this morning on Capitol Hill at the Cannon House Office Building and will be llive streamed here beginning at 9:00 am. This year's honorary chair is Dr. Jack Graham. The listed speakers include at least one non-Christian, the politically conservative Rabbi Daniel Lapin who heads the American Alliance of Jews and Christians. Lapin's Message on that organizaion's website reads in part: "I realized that Jews lived more benignly, more tranquilly and more prosperously today in the United States than anywhere else in the world during the past two thousand years.  It was clear to me that this was precisely because America is a Christian country."

UPDATE: The Presidential Proclamation is now also on the White House website.