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By Adelle M. Banks and Nicole Neroulias
Religion News Service

(RNS) A Muslim advocacy group is partnering with a Jewish online organization that has called for “inclusive” observances of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday (May 1).
“Contact your governor and other elected representatives to ask them to make sure any National Prayer Day event they sponsor or attend is inclusive and representative of our nation’s religious diversity,” reads an “action alert” from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Jews on First has questioned the application process for coordinators affiliated with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
The Jewish group said the prayer day, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1952, has been “hijacked” by the task force, which seeks coordinators who agree with a statement of faith declaring that the Bible is the “inerrant Word of the Living God.”
“We should carry out the original intent of the National Day of Prayer instituted by President Truman, to encourage Americans of all faiths to take part in spiritual events that bring our nation together,” said CAIR National Director Tahra Goraya.
In a separate but related move, atheists who say they are fed up with the National Day of Prayer are proposing an alternative annual activity: “National Gift of Life Day,” a chance to offer blood instead of blessings.
“We know that prayer does not work, but medical science does,” says Kenneth Bronstein, president of the New York City Atheists, which will hold its blood drive on Thursday at the Citigroup Center in midtown Manhattan.
Michael Calhoun, a spokesman for Dobson’s Task Force, declined to comment on the protests, but said the event was based on America’s constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.
“We just hope everybody across the country will unite together in prayer for our communities, our leaders and our nation,” he said.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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