Commentaries

National Day of Prayer

Op Ed From Shirley Dobson
Chairman, National Day of Prayer Task Force

Photo of Shirley DobsonThe assault on religious freedom and people of faith in this country continues at a fever pitch, orchestrated by atheist groups, and perpetuated by the media, the government, the judiciary, and now, by the Pentagon. Specifically, prayers uttered by those in official positions are being met with hostility, or they have been banned outright. This opposition represents a radical change of direction for this great land.

National days of prayer have occurred since 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the nation to join in a petition for divine guidance. Since then, 34 of 44 U.S. presidents have called for days of prayer during times of crisis, including George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson during World War I, Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, George H.W. Bush during Desert Storm, and George W. Bush during Iraqi Freedom. Roosevelt prayed a passionate six-minute prayer on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, which was broadcast in its entirety on nationwide radio. Our leaders knew then that we desperately needed God’s intervention during those very dark days; today, official recognition of the National Day of Prayer is now judged to be unconstitutional.

In 1952, both houses of Congress passed legislation establishing an official Day of Prayer. It was signed into law by President Harry Truman. In 1988, Congress amended that law by a unanimous vote, designating the first Thursday of May as the annual National Day of Prayer. It was signed by President Ronald Reagan. This has been our cherished history, which is supported by the majority of Americans representing all faiths.

Unfortunately, that heritage of prayer is now facing its most serious opposition to date. On April 15, 2010, federal judge Barbara Crabb issued a outrageous ruling striking down the official National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional. What arrogance from an unelected and unaccountable member of the bench! The Obama Administration has done the right thing in appealing this terrible court ruling, and we hope, and yes, we pray, that the Justice Department will use every avenue at its disposal to mount a vigorous defense of the National Day of Prayer

Now, a small group of naysayers has demanded that the Pentagon cancel its plan to involve the National Day of Prayer Task Force at its observance on May 6th. The Pentagon, representing the most powerful military in the world, melted like butter and withdrew the invitation. It also disinvited Rev. Franklin Graham who was scheduled to speak. And the beat goes on.

America is engulfed in bloody wars on two fronts, where men and women are fighting and dying for the cause of liberty. They need, and deserve, fervent prayers during their time of sacrifice. We at the National Day of Prayer Task Force ask the American people to defend the right to pray in the Pentagon and in all public venues. Let your officials know that our 230 year heritage of prayer and faith must not be abandoned.