Baptist Joint Committee- BJC: National Day of Prayer is misguided and unnecessary

Congress’ official designation and the President’s predictable proclamation of a National Day of prayer is misguided and unnecessary, says a Washington, D.C.-based church-state organization.

J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said “it is not the government’s job to tell the American people what, where or when to pray or even if they should pray.”

In 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution, signed by President Harry Truman, setting aside one day a year for prayer. Since then, presidents have proclaimed a day for prayer annually observed on the first Thursday of May. The administration has announced President Obama will sign a proclamation but will not hold an event this year. “There is nothing wrong with the American people getting together to pray on a designated day, even public officials,” Walker said. “In fact every day should be a day of national prayer. President Obama, like others before him, welcomes prayers for our country and its leadership. He has expressed his personal appreciation for such support, and people of faith feel called to pray for our country.

“The problem with the National Day of Prayer is that it is an official act of the government urging citizens to engage in a religious exercise,” Walker said.

Walker said people of faith do not require the government’s stamp of approval for their religious practices.

“A day of prayer is more appropriately called for by pastors, rabbis and imams among us – not civil magistrates, Congress, or even an American president.”

The National Day of Prayer has been going on for over 50 years, so I wonder why they now have an issue with it.

Of course, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has their own take of the National Day of Prayer with the new administration.

Somewhat related: Federal “Religious History Week” Bill

A federal bill, the Spiritual Heritage Resolution introduced by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) details how religion and politics have played vital roles in American history. The measure has won enthusiastic support from members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as well as Gary Bauer and James and Shirley Dobson of the Colorado-based National Day of Prayer. The bill will be re-introduced after NDOP events this Thursday.

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