Thursday, May 07, 2009

National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer will be ignored by the Obama Administration -- at least compared to the treatment given the Day by the Bush Administration.

Obama ends Bush-era National Prayer Day service at White House Los Angeles Times
Obama breaks from Bush on prayer day Boston Globe
Obama boycotts National Day of Prayer Kansas City Star

On can argue that Bush hypocritically and insincerely used the National Day of Prayer for political purposes.

One certainly cannot accuse Obama the same way.

If one assumes that Bush was sincere in his promotion of the National Day of Prayer, and that at least some of the members of the Bush White House had a sincere reverence for prayer, one can also assume that prayer is not held with reverent esteem by the Obama Administration.

Here's how the subject of the National Day of Prayer was treated at a Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 4/27/09:

Q Looking ahead, the first Thursday in May is the National Day of Prayer. For the last eight years, on that day, there's been a prayer service in the East Room of the White House. So that would be not this Thursday, but May 7th. Can you tell us what the plans --

MR. GIBBS: I need it now. (Laughter.)

Q Can you tell us what the plans are for this year's National Day of Prayer?

MR. GIBBS: Well, most of these guys will tell you, I'm so bad at the week ahead that two weeks ahead might be a challenge even I can't begin to overcome.

Q There's concern among evangelicals that there will be nothing held at the White House this year. Is that true -- nothing in the White House?

MR. GIBBS: I can't imagine that that would the case. I will check with scheduling and those in the faith office that would have a better idea. The President is somebody who prays each and every day and -- whether it's national prayer day or not.


Here's the conversation at a May 5, 2009 Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

Q Robert, can I ask about Thursday? The National Day of Prayer -- the President, as I understand it, is going to sign a proclamation but there's not going to be a public ceremony, as the Bush administration did. Why the difference in approach? Does the President have a different feeling about this event than his predecessor?

MR. GIBBS: No, I mentioned, I think when I was asked about this last week, that prayer is something that the President does every day. I think, given some of the issues that you all have denoted today, it might be a healthy thing. But we're doing a proclamation, which I know that many administrations in the past have done.

Q The previous administration had a ceremony with prayers and speeches and such. Does he think -- the current President think that that was politicized in some fashion?

MR. GIBBS: No, I'm not going to get into that. Again, I think the President understands, in his own life and in his family's life, the role that prayer plays. And I would denote that administrations prior to the past one did proclamations. That's the way the President will publicly observe National Prayer Day. But as I said, privately he'll pray as he does every day.

Q Is he going to pray at the church that he calls his own?

MR. GIBBS: I'm sorry --

Q Will he soon pray in a church that he calls his own?

MR. GIBBS: He may. Amen. (Laughter.)


The "laughter" at both events may be a nervous laughter, or laughing at what the Obama Administration perceives as the buffoons in the Religious Right. But it does not appear that the White House takes prayer as seriously as the organizers of the National Day of Prayer.

No mention of the National Day of Prayer can be found on the White House Blog. If one searches the White House website (http://www.whitehouse.gov/) for "National Day of Prayer," one is asked:

Did you mean?
national day off prayer
Search was unable to find any results for national day of prayer, you may have typed your word incorrectly, have entered an empty phrase or are being too specific.

The National Day of Prayer is half over, and no proclamation appears on the White House website. It's effectively being ignored.

To see how seriously America's Founding Fathers took prayer, consider the following:

During the Convention that hammered out the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin underscored the importance of prayer.

After the Constitution was complete, Congress declared that God should be thanked for answering America's prayers.

Madison said that the completion of the Constitution under such difficult circumstances showed evidence of God's intervention:

Would it be wonderful if, under the pressure of all these difficulties, the [Constitutional] convention should have been forced into some deviations from that artificial structure and regular symmetry which an abstract view of the subject might lead an ingenious theorist to bestow on a Constitution planned in his closet or in his imagination? The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted, and surmounted with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.
Federalist #37

During his administration, Madison noted the importance of prayer for God's supernatural intervention. Example. Had it been George Bush, the ACLU would have screamed about violations of "the separation of church and state."

President John Adams proclaimed national days of prayer, inluding this one in 1798 and this one in 1799. They were Trinitarian.

Days of Prayer were also frequent in the States, which is where Jefferson said such proclamations should be made.

Nobody agrees with Jefferson's anti-federalism any more; this is a theological issue. Obama isn't concerned about the Constitution; he believes the federal government is God, not the God of the Bible.

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