The United States Congress established the national day of prayer in 1952, and in 1988 its date was set as the first Thursday in May. This year’s proclamation states:
The Congress by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on our
citizens to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society and to honor the
freedom of religion by recognizing annually a "National Day of Prayer."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States
of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2005, as a National Day of
Prayer. I ask the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, each
according to his or her own faith, for the liberty and blessings we
have received and for God’s continued guidance and protection.
(I’m not going to comment in this post on the government’s intrusion into religion, or the highly gendered language for God, or the assumption that Americans all have faith, or that their faith involves a God or the practice of prayer, or any of a number of things with which I might take issue. I do believe in God and in prayer–but don’t make assumptions about what those words mean.)
I do give thanks for the liberty and blessings I’ve received, and I do pray for guidance and protection for the United States. I give thanks for:
- the right to get married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- the right to practice my religion (albeit, as I noted above, with untoward government intrusion)
- the right to vote
- the material plenty in which I live (while tempered with the knowledge that this plenty is based upon inequity and domination)
I pray for guidance for our country:
- that my fellow citizens and our government will become free of intolerance and dependence on violence to solve problems
- that George Bush (for better or worse, our president) will be open to wisdom and compassion
- that judges at all levels of government will continue to be free of legislative and executive control
But none of this is what these folks mean when they take up the official banner of the National Day of Prayer. No, what they mean isn’t for everyone–it’s not even for all Christians. It’s only for those who subscribe to the Lausanne Covenant, an evangelical Christian statement. Here’s how they put it:
Is the NDP exclusively a Christian event?
government-proclaimed day is offered to all Americans, regardless of
religion, to celebrate their faith through prayer. However, the efforts
of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with its
The chairman [sic] is Shirley Dobson:
Who is behind the NDP Task Force?
The Chairman is
Mrs. Shirley Dobson, who has held the position since 1991. Mrs. Dobson
volunteers her time and does not receive a salary. The NDP Task Force
consists of a full-time staff and a network of thousands of grassroots
volunteers nationwide. Prior to Mrs. Dobson’s involvement, the Task
Force was led by Mrs. Vonette Bright, wife of former Campus Crusade for
Christ president and founder Bill Bright.
Is the Task Force affiliated with Focus on the Family?
Though Mrs. Dobson is married to Focus on the Family board chairman and
founder Dr. James Dobson, the NDP Task Force is a separate
organization. It is housed in the Focus on the Family headquarters for
convenience, so long as Mrs. Dobson remains the Chairman. Its business
affairs are separate and Focus on the Family is compensated for
services rendered. However, between 1990 and 1993, Focus on the Family
did provide grants in support of the NDP Task Force. Since then, the
Task Force has been completely self-supported.
I’ve been distubed by the National Day of Prayer organization’s exclusive sectarianism for some time and just wanted to get it off my chest.
Today is also the 27th of Nissan, Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Now there’s something to pray about.