Today's Topic



No National Day of Prayer
at Nation's Capital

Natalia J. Garland

Print Version

Removing the National Day of Prayer would be like removing In God We Trust from our coins and bills, or the Pledge of Allegiance from our schools, or the National Anthem from sports events and other ceremonies. There was a time when these patriotic and spiritual expressions did not exist. However, they seem to have come into existence in order to reinforce our historical roots and our common values, purpose, and future as Americans. If any of them were removed at this point, our solidarity would be diminished to some extent.

This year, our nation's Capital did not provide a public celebration of the National Day of Prayer. Instead, the President issued a statement and apparently observed the day with a private prayer. What is the difference between public and private expressions of prayer? A public expression involves the celebration of a power greater than self: a deity figure and usually a doctrinal system associated with that deity. It is a public confession of a personal belief, evidenced by one's participation in a communal celebration. A private prayer involves the personal relationship between the individual and the deity, without the participation of other believers. Both forms of prayer are legitimate expressions in the lives of believers.

There are, however, some possible negative interpretations and repercussions of this year's lack of the public aspect of worship at the Capital. (1) Submission to political correctness. (2) The failure to reinforce peaceful co-existence among the nation's religions. (3) A disregard of the importance of Christianity in the building and sustaining of America. (4) An enabling of arrogance.

(1) Political correctness demands that mainstream Americans not offend anyone who differs with their beliefs and customs. Now, the majority of Americans are Christians and it is expected that the majority show special regard for the feelings (the feelings, not just the rights) of the minority--even to the point of self-destruction. The minority would include Muslims and other types of believers, atheists and agnostics, and people whose lifestyle choices cannot be sanctioned by most religions. This category could also include those clerics who would not have been invited to officiate at the Capital ceremonies. From Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Pastor Rick Warren, there is a wide range of clerics and church members who might have felt hurt at not having been invited to participate.

(2) The National Day of Prayer, despite one's approval or disapproval of any particular cleric who might invoke a prayer or give a sermon, is both a manifestation and symbol of our Constitutional rights. It shows the best of America: the ability of people to come together in harmony. It is an opportunity to show the world that America guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Not to have a public religious gathering is to fail as an example of democracy before the world's leaders and to withhold hope from the world's oppressed and persecuted.

(3) Since America is mainly a Christian nation, the non-observance of a form of public worship--even an interfaith ceremony--contributes to the annihilation of Jesus Christ and the erosion of positive Christian influence. When Christians join together with one another and with people of other faiths, it shows the openness and goodwill of Christians toward all people. To remove the National Day of Prayer is to isolate other types of believers from Christians and to prevent communication, as well as to obliterate or minimize the positive impact of Christianity on the development of American government and culture. With little notice and even less objection, the lack of a public ceremony at the Capital contributed to the chipping, slipping, dripping away of religion, particularly Christianity, as a meaningful force in people's lives.

(4) When religion becomes exclusively a private matter--not regarding the freedom of choice but regarding expressions of prayer and worship--and not also an organized gathering and communal experience, then religion becomes archaic. Then, something else will rush in to fill that void. In the absence of God, of a power higher than self and the related teachings that guide human behavior, then various tendencies could be unleashed in different people and at different levels: arrogance, self-importance, selfishness, megalomania, confusion, disorder, anxiety, injustice, despair, hopelessness, an endless search for meaning, etc. Moreover, these tendencies would be without recourse to a true spiritual pathway, but with increased susceptibility to falsehood and idolatry.

A totalitarian government is based on the centralization of power and control. The governing elite would become the designers of the country's systems and the masters of its citizens' fate. A fascist government is based on authoritarianism. The leader, not God, would be the one who decides what is best for everyone. An American president, for example, could claim the authority to rule over the masses and to overrule the U.S. Constitution--perhaps a claim based on a message directly delivered to him by the Supreme Being during a moment of private prayer. (Written 05/11/09)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

Find More Topics in the Table of Contents

Return to Homepage


Copyright 2009 Natalia J. Garland