May 01, 2008

National Day of Prayer Not Really National

As clearly pointed out in this note from the American Prospect (item #4 on this link), the upcoming "National Day of Prayer" on May 1 should actually be called "Government Sponsored Day of Christian Prayer."

This is just another example of the Religious Right co-opting the government for their agenda. The first warning of this should have been the fact that Shirley Dobson, the wife of infamous founder of Focus on the Family Dr. James Dobson, is the chairman. Don't take my word for it, here is a quote from the official site:

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.

Clearly Shirley Dobson has every right to organize this type of event on her own dime. Last Saturday, an event called ReignDown USA was held on the National Mall and broadcast across the world. There were no government proclimations behind this event (also an exclusively Christian gathering) however. There are plenty of them for the National Day of Prayer, from the federal government and all 50 states (you can see for yourself from this link).

Folks, this is not freedom of religion. This if freedom for the Religious Right to worship as THEY see fit and direct everyone included to worship ONLY as the leadership sees fit.

I'm a Christian, so I would be welcome to participate (probably only as long as I kept my mouth shut about GLBT people), but I don't want to be part of government led and sponsored worship anymore than I want my church to pass legislation (we could probably do a better job, but I digress).

I'll be praying for our nation to go back to its foundation of being inclusive and the end of state-sponsored religious worship. I hope you'll join me.


  1. Freedom of religion is quite different than freedom from religion. We, as united States citizens, are protected by our Constitution for the right to worship any religion without prejudice or prosecution. If you would deny me this right, what other rights would you try to deny? Right to privacy? Private ownership? Free speech? We are a great nation not because of the sleeping masses in front of the tube, but because of those who recognized & chose to bleed for their freedoms which were recognized by our founding fathers as given by God.

  2. Rastus,

    Not exactly sure where you are coming from here, but if the U. S. Government is sponsoring an event restricted to Christians only, wouldn't it be logical for someone of another faith, like Hindus, Buhddists, or Muslims, feel that THEIR freedom of religion maybe wasn't all it could be? This nation was founded in part by people escaping a state-mandated religion, yet I believe that during the Bush administration the United States has taken far too many steps in that direction.

  3. I take a little different view of this, Jim.
    I don't see any problem with what the National Day of Prayer does. There are government proclamations for all kinds of things. All you have to do is basically write something up and send it to a political official. Most times, it gets approved.
    By the way, since I was at Reign Down USA, there was a proclamation from President Bush that was read at the event.
    To me, if the government proclamation said that all people celebrating National Day of Prayer had to pray in a "Christian" way, that would be different. However, that's not the case here. I do think that we need to be careful about allowing religious freedom to become a way for the Religious Right to "take over the government", but I don't think this one fits.
    Again, just my humble opinion. Smile. You know I have to share!