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.