Friday, October 19, 2012

The National Day of Prayer Canceled according to Kamal Saleem

I hear this, a lot.  Obama has cancelled the National Day of Prayer.  Oddly enough, while these people try to convince you that the National Day of Prayer is so important, they reveal that it is not important enough for them to know that it has not been canceled. 

Perhaps, it is beneficial to give a little bit of a history.  In 1952 a bill was unanimously passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Truman.  The bill asked* that the President must select a day annually for a national day of prayer.  Notice that the President could select any day that he saw fit, it was not set yet.  The following year, President Eisenhower became the first President to select a day under this law.  Here we should make two tangents.

One, Presidents have been declaring days of fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving since our nation’s founding.  The National Day of Prayer Task Force correctly notes the following

“National days of prayer have occurred since 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the nation to join in a petition for divine guidance. Since then, 34 of 44 U.S. presidents have called for days of prayer during times of crisis, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. This has been the tradition of our nation from its founding.”

10 of our Presidents never called for days of prayer. I am curious as to who the ten were. The National Day of Prayer was signed into law by our 33rd President Harry Truman, so every president since 1953 has call for a day of prayer at least once a year: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. That’s 11 of our 44 Presidents. We now have 33 Presidents left. It is 10 out of 33 or basically a little less than one third. My point is that while 23 is more than 10, there is a sizable minority that did not call for days of prayer before the National Day of Prayer was codified into law by Congress. The scales are not as weighted as they appear.

Second, in 1953 Eisenhower attended what was then known as the Representative's Prayer Breakfast.  Since then every sitting President has attended this annual prayer breakfast organized by The Fellowship Foundation”.  In 1970, the name was changed from “The President’s Prayer Breakfast” to “The National Prayer Breakfast”. Without Congressional incentive this prayer breakfast has patronized by our Presidents for 60 years.

OK, let’s get back to the National Day of Prayer.  In 1974, The National Prayer Committee was created.  A non-profit Christian evangelical organization, they created The National Day of Prayer Task Force as a Project.  Remember at this point The National Day of Prayer can be any day of the year. 

In 1981, they begin organizing with the Reagan White House to coordinate a Nation Day of Prayer observance.  They must coordinate, because the President designates the day.  In 1982, Reagan holds the White House’s first National Day of Prayer ceremony.  In 1983, the first National Day of Prayer observance is held at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.  In 1986, they begin to lobby Congress to get The National Day of Prayer set on a specific day of the year.  The goal of The National Day of Prayer Task Force is to organize events for The National Day of Prayer; an annual designated day would help further their goals. The bill is originally introduced in 1987 and is signed into law May 8, 1988.  The first Thursday of May was designated as the annual National Day of Prayer.   In 1989, Bush holds the White House’s second National Day of Prayer ceremony.  Notice that it had been seven years between the first and the second ceremonies.  The third ceremony was held by George W. Bush in 2001.  This was the first White House ceremony to be organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force.  Bush continued to hold them annually throughout both terms of his Presidency which added up to four times all the previous Presidents combined. Out of the 10 ceremonies held by the White House, George W. Bush held 80% of them.  

When Obama came into the White House in 2009, he chose like most other Presidents to issue proclamations, but not to hold public ceremonies.  He has declared every first Thursday of May as The National Day of Prayer. 

This video is getting long, so I will make another video with my thoughts on the matter.


"Atlantis" by
"Stickybee" and "I Want to Destroy Something Beautiful" by Josh Woodward from 

 *Originally I said "required".  Technically the bill was a resolution asking the President to set aside a National Day of Prayer.  This was not a mandate, but all Presidents have complied with the request.  Likewise in 1950, Congress asked the President to give a Prayer for Peace every Memorial Day. 

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