The Obama administration treated the ‘national day of prayer’ much differently than the previous administration, and the difference was black and white. From a non-US source (Sarah Posner):”During the Bush years, the National Day of Prayer, an anodyne holdover from the Truman days, was taken over by the religious right and turned into an official White House event. Hijacked by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and her National Day of Prayer Task Force, the first Thursday in May became a juggernaut for the fundamentalist proponents of “Christian nation” mythology. The Task Force even had its own unconstitutional Day of Prayer event with Bush in the East Room of the White House.
Not so this year. President Barack Obama spurned the Dobson crew, making it clear last week that the White House would NOT be hosting any prayer events, but would, as customary, issue a Day of Prayer proclamation. The Interfaith Alliance and Jews on First, two liberal groups promoting religious liberty and church-state separation, urged the White House to make the proclamation INCLUSIVE to ALL religious and NON-religious Americans..
Midday yesterday, the White House released Obama’s proclamation, which, WITHOUTreference to any particular religion, sect, or ritual, recognised and celebrated an American tradition of prayer. The groups that had demanded inclusiveness were pleased. But the Center for Inquiry, a secular humanist group, NOTED, “the whole idea of having an official National Day of Prayer is both illogical and unconstitutional. The government has no business endorsing religious practices, and the notion that a deity desires mandated prayers is absurd – even barbaric.”
The prayer Task Force, to no one’s surprise, marked the day of piety by suggesting the president does not understand the national heritage. ..