Today is the first Thursday in May, which Congress has designated the National Day of Prayer (NDP). The one sentence federal law is brief but clear: “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
This year’s presidential proclamation, however, contains plenty of references to prayer but does not mention the word “God” or any common alternatives such as “Almighty,” “Creator,” “Divine Providence,” “Lord,” or even the capitalized “Him.”
There is much truth about prayer contained in the proclamation, including:
Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance. Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements — including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans. Prayer is also a daily practice for many, whether it is to ask for help or strength, or to give thanks over blessings bestowed.
But the only mention of the divine comes in the obligatory “in the year of our Lord” closing paragraph signifying the date it was issued.
That’s the first time in the last 30 years of presidential proclamations that such an omission has occurred, according to The Daily Citizen’s research.
Is this a sign of our secular times?
Are we so woke that God cannot be mentioned out of fear of blowback from offended interest groups?
Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that politics determines whether God gets a mention in the NDP proclamation, let me assure you there is evidence to the contrary. In 1997, for example, President Bill Clinton used the word “God” or a synonym 12 times in his NDP proclamation. President George W. Bush never used more than seven references to God in any of his eight annual proclamations.
But zero references? That’s a sad milestone in our national history and disappointing to a nation founded in firm reliance on the Declaration of Independence’s clear affirmation of “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and the inalienable rights endowed on us all by our “Creator.”
Yes, we are a nation of many faiths, as well as those who profess none. As believers, as well as citizens, we are mindful of the rights of all to be free from government coercion in matters of conscience.
But we must also never forget that “In God We Trust,” as our national motto reminds us, or that we are “one nation, under God” as the Pledge of Allegiance so importantly observes. On the National Day of Prayer, it is wholly appropriate for the Executive branch of our federal government to proclaim not only that we are to pray, but that we should be directing our prayers to God.
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