Thursday, May 7, 2009


National Day of Prayer needs to be de-politicized for everyone's sake

My favorite prayer picture is by Norman Rockwell, depicting "Freedom of Religion" in his The Four Freedoms series (of religion, from want, from fear, of speech). In it, people of many different religions -- not just Christian -- are all praying "each according to the dictates of his own conscience" side by side.

The last National Day of Prayer event I participated in excluded all but Christians from the dias. No Muslims. No Jews. No Buddhists. No Native American faiths. The event and prayers offered had very partisan political tone. I felt as if God, clearly, must be a Republican and on the side of Republicans and, apparently, Christian Republicans.

I haven't participated in another National Day of Prayer event since. Not because I'm not Republican, but because God is just not that small. And neither is America. I don't think that's what Harry Truman had in mind when he instituted the day. I don't even think that's what Ronald Reagan had in mind when he fixed its observance on the first Thursday of May.

Let the leadership of NDOP move away from its ideologically divisive and religiously exclusionary control at Focus on the Family and it might begin to gain the attention and respect it deserves. Until then, it doesn't seem fair to judge (or condemn or de-christianize) our professing Christian President who leads a religiously diverse nation for attempting to depoliticize both prayer and this day.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.


  1. As an assistant pastor I was given the word to attend and felt your words the whole hour and a half...

    Thanks for making me not feel crazy and like i am the only one!


  2. This sums up my feelings about the few NDOP services I've attended in my town in recent years. You helped me understand why I felt the way I did, thanks!


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.