NDOP is more than just a private religious event, too. The political overtones became obvious last year when Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura became the first national leader to refuse an endorsement of the Day of Prayer activity.
"I believe in the separation of church and state," Ventura declared. "We all have our religious beliefs. There are people out there who are atheists, who don't believe at all. They are all citizens of Minnesota and I have to respect that."
This year's Day of Prayer activities may go the extra mile, though, in violating the separation of church and state. The National Day of Prayer Task Force and other groups supporting the May 4 activity are making a special effort to encourage prayer at school flagpoles, along with the usual battery of prayer breakfasts, Bible reading marathons, prayer rallies and other activities. Students are being encouraged to wear special "P.R.A.Y. Bracelets" (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield). Separationists need to make sure that teachers, administrators and other public school officials do not endorse the National Day of Prayer event, or penalize students who choose not to participate.
"They've already tried to turn the city hall into a church," declares Ellen Johnson. "Now, they are using the National Day of Prayer to brainwash youngsters and encourage religious conformity in the public schools."