Americans mark National Day of Prayer
Americans who are so inclined are marking their National Day of Prayer on Thursday — and, as with any event that evokes church and state in this country, it is not without controvesy.
President Barack Obama, who is a practicing Christian, signed a proclamation to declare the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, but unlike his predecessor George W. Bush did not hold an official service at the White House.
This has predicatably angered and disappointed some of the country’s leading conservative Christians.
“While there is a long history of Presidents praying and calling the nation to prayer (dating all the way back to George Washington), a de-emphasis on prayer in this administration should not come as a surprise. What can we expect of an administration whose policies cheapen human life, increase dependence upon government and threaten religious freedoms?” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an influential conservative advocacy group with strong evangelical ties.
Under Bush the White House event — held on the first Thursday of May — was seen among other things as a way to shore up the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base, whose ranks included some of his most ardent supporters.
Obama opted for private prayer but by European standards his proclamation would hardly be viewed as lurch to secularism.
In his proclamation, Obama said:
“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.”
He also said: “I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.”
(PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer during the dedication of Abraham Lincoln Hall at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington March 12, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES)