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After Court Gives OK, Christians Mark National Day of Prayer

By ADELLE M. BANKS
c. 2011 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Supporters marked the 60th annual National Day of Prayer on Thursday (May 5), just weeks after a federal appeals court dismissed a suit that challenged the law creating the day as unconstitutional.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson spoke of the “poignant moment” for the annual gathering on Capitol Hill after a federal court last year had cast uncertainty about future observances.

“Millions of people prayed, and many of them here in this room, and God heard and answered prayer and here we are today!” said Dobson, husband of Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Joining other events in churches, on military bases and at courthouse steps across the country, about 400 people prayed for relief from natural disasters and thanked God for the capture and death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“We are blessed to have the best military and the most sophisticated weaponry in the world,” Shirley Dobson said. “They put their lives on the line to assure that justice was done.”

President Obama, who discontinued his predecessor’s annual observances at the White House, nonetheless issued a proclamation under the 1988 law that says the president shall designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Church-state separation groups continued to oppose the observances, saying it is inappropriate for elected leaders to tell the American people when or how to pray.

“It is bad manners and worse law for Congress and the president to exhort citizens to ‘turn to God in prayer,’ as the 1952 law enacting a National Day of Prayer does,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which recently lost the case about the observance.

Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who posited that the Navy SEALs prayed before entering bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, defended the observances against opposition from advocates of church-state separation.

“That principle does not apply to separating me or any of us from our faith and belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” he said, drawing a standing ovation. “It does not apply to separating this great nation from its Judeo-Christian faith heritage.”

Task force officials invited former Sen. Elizabeth Dole to speak “on behalf of” the executive branch, in lieu of a representative from the current administration. Dole, who served as secretary of transportation during Ronald Reagan’s administration, spoke of Reagan’s reliance on prayer, support of religious tolerance and belief in “how good can triumph over evil.”



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pagansister

posted May 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm


OMG! I missed it! Oh well.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm


I wish the Dobsons could at least be honest and call this what it is, namely a ‘National’ Day of Christian Prayer. It is – by mandate.

That their brand of prayer is an exclusive one instead of an inclusive one is what degrades it.

But why the President is obligated (yes) to declare this day as a “National” day in a nominally secular country speaks volumes about how powerful the influence of the “Christian” religion is on American policies.

(And they try to say Christianity is under attack.)



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm


““It is bad manners and worse law for Congress and the president to exhort citizens to ‘turn to God in prayer,’ as the 1952 law enacting a National Day of Prayer does,” said Annie Laurie”

And I agree. How silly it would sound if they gave “God” an actual name. I mean, listen: ‘It is bad manners and worse law for Congress and the president to exhort citizens to ‘turn to Zeus in prayer,’ !!!

Or ‘turn to Thor. Or to ‘turn to Vishnu’ – an ‘actual’ god (to some). Or ‘turn to Krishna’, or ‘turn to Buddha’. Or to Joseph Smith, or L. Ron Hubbard. It is “bad manners” to exhort citizens to ‘turn’ to any relgion, but especially not to one particular sect over another, particularly in a country that promises ALL of its citizens freedom of religion.

By requiring the President to “enact” this day of (by mandate, remember) Christian prayer, he is ESTABLISHING that particular set of faith beliefs over those of Hindu citizens, Muslim citizens, Buddhist citizens, Sikh citizens, Jain citizens, Taoist citizens, Scientologists, (probably a lot more sects, but you get the idea), not to mention the atheists.

Can you imagine the uproar if the President were to proclaim a National Atheist Day!?!? Or if he were REQUIRED BY LAW to do so?



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pagansister

posted May 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm


Hee! Hee! GOP; I like your last paragraph.



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jestrfyl

posted May 6, 2011 at 1:23 am


First off, no one made a decree about Wednesday being Star Wars Day, No Jedi ranted that we should all stop what we were doing and practice with our lightsabers, blindfolded. But it was “May the Fourth Be With You” day nonetheless.

There will be a National Day of Prayer as long as people who pray choose there to be one. There is no need for Administrative proclamations or governmental decrees. It is a religious thing, not a political thing. Those who need to pray will pray. Anyone else can go abut their business. That is the beauty of faith, it cannot – by definition – be mandatory. So let’s keep the government out of our religious and spiritual lives.

Now if you don’t mind, I am tired of getting zapped by some sneaky Sith’s saber, and I have to go practice. It is only 12 months until the next Star Wars Day, an I will be ready! And if I am not, then I will pray.



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pagansister

posted May 6, 2011 at 10:49 am


“May the Force be with you, Jestrfyl”. :o)



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cknuck

posted May 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm


from the very conception of this country its founders prayed, as a matter of fact this country by all accounts was forged in prayer and struggle and when Americans hit a hard patch they have traditionally turned to prayer. humor is nice jest but it does not sustain trails nor does it facilitate growth as prayer does. National Day of Prayer has no interest in forcing folk to pray I am never surprised when evil tries to deceive people with such silly rhetoric. Our NDoP was wonderful yesterday prayer was presented in several different languages and a young child blessed us all with his prayer.



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pagansister

posted May 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm


cknuck, just because your contention is that the “founders” prayed, it was not mandated that this country be told that we, as a country, should pray on a certain day. No where does it state this is a Christian country or a Muslim country or a Jewish country or a secular country etc. What is with the folks that think it should be a National Day of prayer when anytime someone wants to pray, they can, in their heads if in a situation where just starting to pray might be inappropriate. It is just not a part of this Democratic nation to have elected leaders/representatives telling us when to pray. Obviously that NDoP isn’t mandated or forced, as that would be the habit/law of some other countries, as I had no idea it was such an “important” day until I read this article. Like I said—”missed it”. Glad you had such a wonderful day of talking to your Lord.



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nnmns

posted May 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm


It could be done non-divisively, but instead it’s a National Day of Christian Prayer. Pity. Who appointed those jerks to be in charge?



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pagansister

posted May 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm


nnmns—–the appointed ones would most certainly be appointed by—non-other than “GOD!” (of course). :0)



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Henrietta22

posted May 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm


“In 1988 the proclamation for the first thurs. in May be set aside as a National Day of Prayer.” Reagan didn’t say a National Day of Christian Prayer, but he was Christian and we Christians being big on prayers thought this is good. I think it was brought out to have a day to represent all diversity of religion’s people who want to pray together across America. All people who pray to a God or whatever else they pray to. All you hear about are Christians praying in groups on this day. When other’s let the media know they are praying in groups on the first thurs. in May in years to come then they will be in the news, too. If you don’t recognize a God, or just plain too busy to want to use this day as a day together with American citizens across the country, then do what you please. This is America and you can worship or not, it’s one of our freedoms.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm


Henrietta,

It goes WELL beyond Reagan: The NDoP “was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman”.

Re: “Reagan didn’t say a National Day of Christian Prayer”

He didn’t have to:

“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

Their vision: – to “Preserve America’s Christian heritage” (as if having an inclusive day somehow endangers this “Christian” heritage), and to

- “Foster unity within the Christian Church”

- “In accordance with Biblical truth”

So, like I said, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Jains, Pagans, atheists, Scientologists, etc. need not bother.

And, like I also said, so much for a “National” day, and for freedom of religion for people who aren’t “Christian”.

This is an exclusionary event run by the Dobsons, proven promoters of hate.

And, it is mandated by law that the President declare it. So much for HIS freedom of religion. This mandate and the bylaws/makeup of the organization and event establish the “Christian” faith above others. These are the UN-Constitutional parts.



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cknuck

posted May 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm


Washington declared a day of fasting and prayer, yes this country does have a Christian heritage. Other people were never forced to pray if Buddhist, Muslims, Hindu, or atheist want to do whatever they do it’s a free country it just so happens it is mostly Christian that formed it.



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pagansister

posted May 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm


This country also has a Jewish heritage, so should their be a Jewish National Day of Prayer cknuck?



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Henrietta22

posted May 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm


Thanks for the info GOP, I didn’t know that it went back to 1952, and the reason for it. Well I like my reasoning in my last quote. It is 2011 and we Christians should show the Grace to invite all peoples to one National Day of Prayer. In 1952 my fiance was fighting in Korea, and I was working for the day he came home. The only thing I payed attention to in the news was “Korea”.



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cknuck

posted May 8, 2011 at 7:27 pm


pagan I’ve been to at least 2 NDoP opened by Jews, your point is lame



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cknuck

posted May 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm


pagan my last post was unfair since you probably have never been to a NDoP and were probably just speculating, my apologies.



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LutheranChik

posted May 9, 2011 at 9:35 am


My un-fundie pastor was once asked to participate in one of the local versions of these things by a community ministerial association dominated by conservative Evangelicals. For some reason, they asked him to help lead the prayers. So he did…and prayed the sort of prayers we pray in our church, for the same things we usually do — for peace; for justice; for compassion and inclusion in society; for care of the “least of these.” He wasn’t asked back the next year.;-) So not only is it not just a “day of prayer” for all people of faith, it’s not even a day of prayer for all Christians — just Christians who follow the Focus on the Family political party line.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 9, 2011 at 9:45 am


LutheranChik,

“So not only is it not just a “day of prayer” for all people of faith, it’s not even a day of prayer for all Christians — just Christians who follow the Focus on the Family political party line.”

+ 1.

Plus, I don’t consider the Dobson’s Christian in the first place. They reject the teachings of Christ about doing to “the least of these” as they would have done unto themselves. Theirs is an exclusive version of faith, not the inclusive one Christ taught.



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jestrfyl

posted May 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm


OK Am Hist 100
First and longest lasting community, St Augustine, FL – founded by Hugenots, taken by the Spanish and English at various times. It was indeed a religious colony that got taken in less than religious ways.

Jamestown – founded by entrepreneurs who had their eyes on the money prize. Religion was an afterthought. Once the Anglican colony was established it could not keep up with the demand for clergy, so a splinter group was formed that did not require institutional ordination for church leadership. They became the Christian Church. Barely half credit for religious beginnings

Plymoth – less than half of the passengers on the Mayflower were “Puritans”. However, it became clear that for organizational sake, the Puritans were the best organized. Half credit because they did not require all of the community members to be part of the church.

New Amsterdam – the Dutch Reformed church was a presence but not a player in the founding of this community. Quarter credit.

By the way, Jewish communities were formed along with older churches. They ought to be well included in any Day of Prayer. Moslems may have come later, but they have been an enduring presence for almost 200 years. Chinese people have played a role in American history, especially in the push eastward from California. They should be included. Africans have converted or adapted their cultural religion with some varieties of Christianity. This entire thrust on (Protestant) Christian Day of prayer completes discredits the phrase “One Nation Under God”, which in many ways explains why it is inappropriate on our money, and in the Pledge (to which it was pasted many years later).

A National Day of Prayer has less credibility if only one segment of one religion promotes it. Rather than having it imposed so it looks like a publicity event, it would be more credible if it came from the people first. The transparency of the event has undermined anyones interest in it.

ck,
Your comment on my posting implies I have an evil orientation. I assure I do not. My goal is simply to hold the door open for people, not to shut it in their face because they are not like me. If that is indeed you definition for evil, then I picture you standing with Caiaphas and his Temple minions a Jesus tried to hold the door open for all the people in Israel. They thought he was evil too.



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cknuck

posted May 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm


jest I don’t have th ego to support that would compare me to Jesus as you may, I don’t get it right all of the time but I have never closed any door on anyone God and the truth do what needs to be done in that area and it is not my business. As for you there is no door at all if a door needs a frame to hold it up the door you talk about has none, your road is wide and all inclusive so that one can honor God or dishonor God, its all the same with you as a matter of fact humor is more important to you as i have read you mock God to fit in with your cronies. A very misleading message indeed, can you even feel the millstone?



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cknuck

posted May 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm


LC I’d love to know what your pastor actually do for the least of these?



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nnmns

posted May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm


Thank you j for some substance in this discussion.



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pagansister

posted May 10, 2011 at 11:51 am


Apology accepted, cknuck. :o)

jestrfyl, thanks for the history lesson—informative and appropriate for this discussion. And also I agree, the slogan for our money and the insertion to the Pledge was totally NOT necessary. As I have probably mentioned in the past, I skip the “under God” when I say the Pledge.



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Henrietta22

posted May 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm


LutheranChik, you do know why you got asked what your Lutheran Pastor did for the ‘least of us’, don’t you? You made the mistake of calling him your unfundie minister. I watch our newspaper every wk., looking for assurance that a Lutheran Church is all welcoming to the GLBT, so I can visit it. Since I was baptized, confirmed and married in this Prostentant Church. Well, maybe someday.



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Henrietta22

posted May 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm


Jestfyl, interesting post and well placed. Thanks.



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cknuck

posted May 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm


1775: The first day of prayer was declared when the Continental Congress “designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation.”
1783: “…the conclusion of the Revolutionary War marked a temporary end to the National Day of Prayer.” 12
1795-FEB-19: George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.
Circa 1813: President James Madison proclaimed a day of prayer. He later said such proclamations are not appropriate. “They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion.” 2
1808: Thomas Jefferson also opposed declarations of national days of prayer by the Federal government. He wrote “Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.” 3
1863-MAR-30: Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional resolution of MAR-3 which called for a day of fasting and prayer durin the Civil War (1860-1865). 4
1952-APR-17: A bill proclaiming an annual National Day of Prayer (NDP) was unanimously passed by both houses of congress. President Truman signed it into law. It required the President to select a day for national prayer each year.
1972: The National Prayer Committee was created. It is an non-profit evangelical Christian organization. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a project of that committee.
1988: A bill was introduced to Congress which fixed the annual NDP at the first Thursday in May. The Senate bill, S 1378, was introduced by Stron Thurmond (R-SC);



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pagansister

posted May 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm


I totally agree with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.



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cknuck

posted May 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm


they had their say but in the end they were in the minority and as the pattern shows in times of distress America at large turns to God in prayer.



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pagansister

posted May 12, 2011 at 11:18 am


But WHOSE God do “they” turn to? Not everyone in America does that, cknuck. I most certainly wasn’t calling on any God when 9-11 occured. After all, an invisible being couldn’t stop the events, what the heck would he/she do after the fact? Nothing. People help themselves.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 12, 2011 at 11:41 am


ck, your little “history” lesson omitted when the “N”Do”C”P was put under the controls of the Dobsons, and when the mandate changed for it to become a “Christian” prayer day.

I can only imagine why.



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cknuck

posted May 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm


grump I’ve never been to a NDoP run by Dobson, nor have I heard mention of him at one



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