National Day of Whatever
It seems today is the National Day of Prayer. I didn't know that until I saw a little blurb on the break room TV as I was heating my drink, but then again I'm not a pray-er.
So what is the National Day of Prayer? According to Wikipedia,
Wow. Doesn't even leave room for the liberal Christians, does it? I guess this paragraph shows why it's not the "National Day of Prayer, Meditation, Contemplation, or Atheistic Musing."
The National Day of Prayer is a day designated by the United States Congress as a day when all Americans regardless of faith are asked to come together and pray in their own way. It is held on the first Thursday in May. A "National Day of Prayer" Task Force was created in order to coordinate the event...
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a non-governmental organization created by the National Prayer Committee to help coordinate events on National Day of Prayer. Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they work out of facilities from Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization. Shirley Dobson is currently at the head of the Task Force...
The Task Force's charter is tolerant of all religions. It is written so that it could be applied to any religion, not just Christianity. In practice though, the Task Force as developed a strictly Judeo-Christian focus, leaning towards predominantly evangelical Christianity, and appears to be run by idividuals associated with the Christian Right.
The Task force's website says in their FAQ section: "Americans of all faiths are encouraged to participate in the [National Day of Prayer] according to their own traditions. However, the [National Day of Prayer] Task Force [only] provides promotional materials and sponsors several events in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition".
The application for volunteer coordinators with the Task Force lists the following as a primary qualification, "Commitment to Christ. A volunteer must be an evangelical Christian who has a personal relationship with Christ. I acknowledge that I am working for the Lord Jesus Christ and the furthering of His Work on earth and agree to perform my work with the highest standard of Chrstian faith."
Another perspective on this day comes from Slacktivist:
So when else is prayer "a hollow exercise in civil religion...in service of hollow pieties?" I would argue that most public prayers fall in this category. At such times I look around at the bowed heads and wonder who's really praying.
In 1952, Congress passed a law establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual religious observance. Quick: give me another sentence that uses the words "Congress," "law," "establish" and "religion." ...
I find the idea of an official National Day of Prayer, like the "under God" clause in the Pledge of Allegiance, a bit hard to swallow. Either it's a serious affirmation of religion -- in which case it seems to violate the Establishment Clause, or else it's a hollow exercise in civil religion -- in which case it seems to violate serious religious faith...
Prayer is a Good Thing. It's far too important to allow it to be highjacked in the service of hollow pieties and political campaigns, so I'm not a fan of the National Day of Prayer.
Still, I look at the proclamation from President George W. Bush and those words force me to drop to my knees in fervent prayer. Not the words of the proclamation itself, mind you, I mean the words "President George W. Bush."