Today is the National Day of Prayer. What exactly does that mean? President Truman signed a bill in 1952 creating the holiday and the president is required by law to issue a proclamation annually celebrating the day.
Somewhere along the line, the Religious Right attempted to hijack this holiday and limit its reach to only conservative evangelical Christians. If you visit the website www.nationaldayofprayer.org, you will be redirected to the the homepage of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. Sounds very official, right? Not so, it is not a government entity – it is a front group for Focus on the Family run by James Dobson’s wife, Shirley. Dobson’s Task Force only allows Christians to participate in their events, and they have been very successful in getting governors and presidents to adopt proclamations in keeping with their theological beliefs.
This year the Interfaith Alliance, in parternship with the website Jews on First, fought back. We sent the White House a letter urging President Obama to reject the Task Force’s spin on the National Day of Prayer and emphasize an inclusive, multi-faith approach to the holiday.
Well, this afternoon the White House issued its proclamation, the highlight of which reads:
[W]e continue to live in a Nation where people of all faiths can worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience.
Needless to say, we are pretty happy that the president adopted our suggested approach. We put out a press release this afternoon, and the president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Welton Gaddy, will be on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight to discuss today’s events in more detail.