National Day Of Prayer Gets a Political Makeover

May 7, 2009

Author: Adelle M. Banks

Source: Religion News Service

Evangelical leaders gathered for the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday (May 7) prayed for President Obama but criticized his decisions to not mark the day with a White House event or send a representative to their annual gathering on Capitol Hill.

Observers say the change of plans from previous years demonstrates that conservative Christians have less influence in the halls of Washington with a new Democratic administration. The Obama administration issued a proclamation instead of holding a public event.

“I am sad to say this morning that this is the first time since the year 2000 that there has not been a prayer service in the White House,” said Shirley Dobson, leader of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, at the Cannon House Office Building.

“I feel a void that the executive branch is not represented here.”

In his (prayer-day) proclamation, Obama said that American leaders like President Lincoln have long called the country to prayer.

“Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer,” he said.

“Let us also use this day to come together in a moment of peace and good will.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that while the president has chosen to publicly observe the day solely with the proclamation, “privately he’ll pray as he does every day.”