Thursday, May 5, 2011
Unanswered Questions about the National Day of Prayer
Today is the National Day of Prayer, an event that has taken place every year since its creation in 1952. Judging by the video above, it seems as though the United States is in imminent danger of being utterly destroyed by evil clouds, or god, I’m not sure. Each president who has been in office since the National Day of Prayer was conceived has chosen to participate in the event in his own way, from President George W. Bush’s annual NDP events in the East Room of the White House to President Obama’s 2009 choice to participate privately while issuing a paper proclamation. While the constitutionality of the event is questionable, it is up to each president to determine how he shall participate.
President Obama has come under fire each year for choosing to not hold events in the White House in honor of the day, a practice that was only annual under President George W. Bush. Rumors spread that he had cancelled the NDP completely, starting in 2009, but that is simply not the case. Obama chooses to pray on his own, while still recognizing his responsibility to issue a NDP proclamation. The bill signed by President Truman in 1952, requires each president to issue a National Day of Prayer but it does not require that there be an event held at the White House, or anywhere else for that matter.
Why we even need a federally proclaimed day of prayer is something I am struggling to understand. I have many unanswered questions regarding this practice and I would like to ask anyone who supports the NDP the following questions. Why should the government call for a day of prayer? What purpose does the government’s endorsement of a day of prayer serve? Why should the government be involved in a strictly religious event? Does the government proclamation of a national day of prayer violate the separation of church and state? Is it the government’s responsibility to inform the public when they can, or should, pray (or not pray) for the country? Why do people want the government to entertain religious practices? Is it not better for all involved for the government to stay out of religious matters?
Anyone in support of, or opposed to, the NDP, please enlighten me. I eagerly await any feedback. Also, in the coming days I will be writing a series of blogs dealing with the religious right and the threat they pose to our country. Check back regularly and provide comments!