Today is the National Day of Prayer, according to a declaration of Congress first issued in 1952. It was amended under Ronald Reagan to specify the first Thursday of May each year. The “Official Website” states:
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds.
However, the “Official Website” makes it clear that they are sponsoring only one kind of prayer:
Official Policy Statement on Participation of “Non-Judeo-Christian” groups in the National Day of Prayer:
The National Day of Prayer Task Force was a creation of the National Prayer Committee for the expressed purpose of organizing and promoting prayer observances conforming to a Judeo-Christian system of values. People with other theological and philosophical views are, of course, free to organize and participate in activities that are consistent with their own beliefs. This diversity is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for this nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate. It is that broad invitation to the American people that led, in our case, to the creation of the Task Force and the Judeo-Christian principles on which it is based.
Neither the “National Day of Prayer Task Force” nor the “National Prayer Committee” have legal standing as governmental agencies, but the impression one would get from their website and promotional materials does not make that clear. Many of the local observances of the National Day of Prayer have failed to represent the religious diversity and liberty that is our cherished heritage. The “Silicon Valley Prayer, Praise and Worship” service scheduled for 6:00 – 7:30 PM today at the San Jose City Hall Plaza has been organized by the Values Advocacy Council and and Transformation Alliance of Santa Clara County, two vocal conservative Christian organizations.
That’s why a coalition of people from diverse religious traditions have joined in a call for an inclusive Day of Prayer. They are encouraging people to contact State Governors and urge them to make clear the multi-religious reality of our communities and to honor that diversity with a truly inclusive Day of Prayer.
- How inclusive is the National Day of Prayer?
Christian Science Monitor
- National Day of Prayer Official Website
- Call for an Inclusive National Day of Prayer