It looks like the Obama administration really will be taking a different direction than the Bush administration in handling this year’s National Day of Prayer (held on the first Thursday of May every year). Officials have stated that Obama will release a proclamation this Thursday, but won’t be hosting a ceremony.
“The Obama administration says it will issue a proclamation marking the National Day of Prayer on Thursday (May 7), but appears to be moving away from the White House ceremonies hosted by former President George W. Bush. “President Obama is a committed Christian and believes that we should be engaging Americans of faith in efforts to renew our country,” a White House official said.”
Prominent conservative Christians (most notably National Day of Prayer Task Force head Shirley Dobson) who have greatly benefited from White House photo-ops in years past have already arranged independent events while insinuating that Obama isn’t properly committed to Sparkle Motion prayer.
“We are disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration,” Shirley Dobson said in a statement issued by the task force on Monday. “At this time in our country’s history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer.”
This shift will certainly make it harder for the Dobson-backed National Day of Prayer Task Force to present itself as the official White House-backed organizer of this annual event and attack politicians who don’t fall into line with their goals and values. One hopes this will lead to a nationwide call to prayer that is inclusive of all faiths, instead of empowering and enriching an organization that purposely excludes other religions. Will Obama’s proclamation include overtures to non-Christian faiths? Considering Obama’s nods to Hindus and Buddhists in past speeches, and the inclusion of yoga at the White House Easter event, I’m hopeful. But we’ll have to wait for Thursday and see.