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May 7, 2009

Debating the Day of Prayer (Update)

President skips ceremony but defends National Day of Prayer in court.

The National Day of Prayer, held annually on the first Thursday of May, is today generating not just supplications to heaven, but wrangling on earth. The Obama administration, in a departure from its predecessors, is marking the day with a statement but not the President's attendance at a ceremony. Meanwhile, some religious groups and others are criticizing the President for stepping back from involvement. However, the administration and some Republican lawmakers are defending the constitutionality of the observance by fighting atheists in court.

Here is the text of the President's proclamation:

Throughout our Nation's history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer. In 1775, as the Continental Congress began the task of forging a new Nation, colonists were asked to observe a day of quiet humiliation and prayer. Almost a century later, as the flames of the Civil War burned from north to south, President Lincoln and the Congress once again asked the American people to pray as the fate of their Nation hung in the balance.


It is in that spirit of unity and reflection that we once again designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Let us remember those who came before us, and let us each give thanks for the courage and compassion shown by so many in this country and around the world.

On this day of unity and prayer, let us also honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. We celebrate their commitment to uphold our highest ideals, and we recognize that it is because of them that we continue to live in a Nation where people of all faiths can worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience.

Let us also use this day to come together in a moment of peace and goodwill. Our world grows smaller by the day, and our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife; and to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. As we observe this day of prayer, we remember the one law that binds all great religions together: the Golden Rule, and its call to love one another; to understand one another; and to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a "National Day of Prayer."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2009, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon Americans to pray in
more thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God's continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.



Factually this article is wrong. While I would like for Obama to have a NDP event, he is the one that is actually returning to his predecessors. Bush was the first and only president to have a White House event. So your statement that Obama was departing from his predecessors is wrong. He is only departing from Bush,the previous president

I agree with the above post. President Obama is praying, as he says that he is every day, and he is departing from President Bush's celebration of the event, not from prayer itself. My hope is in God for President Obama, our nation, my family, myself because of Jesus Christ, not because of an event, organized or not.

If Bush is the first (and only) President to have an NDP ceremony in the WH, I apologize for my unintentional mistake. If it makes you feel better to say Obama is only departing from the practice of his immediate predecessor in the Oval Office regarding the NDP, so be it. Please note, however, that this short post says nothing about whether or how much Obama prays. I think we all can agree that he does pray. Why the touchiness? This was meant to be a straight, factual post.

Hmmmmmm I wonder what on earth Bush prayed for?? Boy would I like to have been a fly on the wall.

I can't believe he did not pray about his idiocy. Or perhaps he did and his prayers just did not go past the roof ....

Adam S stated :"Factually this article is wrong. While I would like for Obama to have a NDP event, he is the one that is actually returning to his predecessors. Bush was the first and only president to have a White House event. So your statement that Obama was departing from his predecessors is wrong. He is only departing from Bush,the previous president

From Eisenhower to Clinton, Presidents honored the National Day of Prayer by issuing a proclamation.GWB changed it to an event honoring political/religious operatives such as MRS. Dobson.Do we want a prayer day that honors people?

(I posted this earlier and saw it here and then it was gone. I am not blaming anyone, just the captcha system. Which by the way, on my computer if I mistype it the first time, it will not allow me to get it right. The only option is to copy what I wrote and start from scratch. I don't know if it just doesn't like Chrome which is my preferred browser or if there is something else about my computer that it doesn't like')

Stan, I was not meaning to be accusatory. I was only trying to point out a factual problem. One that was not in the article that you linked to. I have noticed that most secular coverage seemed to note that it was a return to standard practice, but most Christian coverage suggested that it was not a return, but a rejection of the NDP event. Again, I am not trying to criticize, just trying to be fair.

What is this national day of prayer about anyhow? Do we get the day off to pray? Exactly how is this supposed to happen?

Does this mean you are not concerned about the USA if you don't pray? Will the economy improve quicker if more people pray? Will the war in Iraq end quickier if more people pray? Will the homeless be fed if more people pray? Will those without medical insurance recieve better health care if only more people pray? Less violence if more people pray? Less abortion if more people pray? Less gay people if more people pray? What exactly?

Are we supposed to take the day off and go to church and pray or just stand up on the highways and byways and pray.

You know of course that Jesus said when you pray that you must do it in secret

Actually, Obama did exactly what his predecessors did and make a proclamation. George W. Bush is the one who mixed religion and politics. So, as a born again Christian, I support President Obama in his proclamation and I am very sure he prays daily. He has to in order to get us out of the mess of the previous administration.

what are we supposed to do on this national day of prayer???


How about we get a national day of helping the poor and needy???

Hear, hear for helping the poor and needy. I'm so pleased to red these posts and see that you all caught the error in Stan's article. Stan, was this intentional to see if we knew what is what?