Obama Weakens National Day of Prayer ?

May 6, 2009

David Silverman, national spokesperson for American Atheists, has it


: it is not the president’s job to tell people to pray. And Obama is mostly refusing to do so, at least more so than his recent predecessors.

He is holding no public ceremony recognizing the National Day of Prayer, which a big contrast from how George W Bush did it, when he invited prominent Evangelicals including James Dobson into the White House’s East Room day of prayer ceremony year after year. And for the first time in modern Presidential history, no representative from the executive branch will be attending the National Day of Prayer Task Force’s event on Capitol Hill.

Other coverage of this story:

Chicago Tribune

USA Today

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but still doesn’t go far enough: the president has no business even issuing a proclamation about how important prayer is in his own life. If he is going to go so far as to anger the Evangelical right by not pandering to their interests in encouraging the public to talk to their version of a Sky-father, he should go all the way and keep from advancing religion (the promotion of prayer) in any way, not even saying how important prayer is in his private life.


#1 Kevin (Guest) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 at 2:45pm

“...a big contrast from how Goeorde W Bush did it…”

Did I miss a pun, or did you have a small seizure?

I agree fully with CFI’s and AU’s take on this. Good start, but keep going.

#2 D.J. Grothe on Wednesday May 06, 2009 at 3:13pm

LOL, so much for having our little posts proof read! Thanks Kevin for the heads up..

#3 TheMQ (Guest) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 at 8:40pm

From the Associated Press today:

“According to an article this past week in the Colorado Springs Gazette, ... the ‘Interfaith Alliance and Jews on First sent a letter this month to President Barack Obama asking him to declare that the National Day of Prayer is for Americans of all faiths - and even for nonbelievers’.”


And did these groups also declare that “Hair gel is for Americans of all hair styles—and even for bald people”? or that “Disco is for Americans of all dance moves—even for people who hate to dance”?

What part of “non-believer” don’t they get?

This nonsense needs to be shut down before someone declares “Peanut butter is for Americans of all sandwich preferences—even for those suffering peanut allergies,” or worse, just forces their perfect lunch plan into our schools without declaring anything.

Why does that last part sound familiar?

#4 Tamara (Guest) on Thursday May 07, 2009 at 5:50am

I’ve been trying to hold my tongue about this whole thing in public (especially since I live in the South), but I feel like I can say it here. What a relief. I’ve spent a long, long time being excluded by our government, and I’m thrilled that our president would recognize that not believing is a valid option. I completely understand why President Obama would feel the need to mark the day in some way. This way, he’s expressed his own beliefs, made a statement about how religion and government (don’t) fit together, and we can move on. Hallelujah.

#5 Barbara Laman (Guest) on Thursday May 07, 2009 at 12:35pm

Great! Finally, we have a president who keeps his religion to himself, and who realizes it is not his business—by example or otherwise—to tell anyone anything about faith or non-faith.  I can only hope he does away with all of Bush’s faith-based initiatives.
I am an atheist.  I do not want my tax-dollars to go to any religious groups, I don’t care if it’s for any purpose of which I would approve.  But then I don’t want my tax-dollars to go for war either.  I can’t have everything, I suppose.

#6 Darth Tanion on Thursday May 07, 2009 at 7:31pm

“I do not want my tax-dollars to go to any religious groups, I don’t care if it’s for any purpose of which I would approve.”

The thing about tax dollars paying for things is that most of the time the spending doesn’t benefit EVERYBODY.  If we only spent taxes on things that EVERYBODY got benefits out of equally then they would almost never get spent.  I think religion is such a personal thing that people from both sides get too sensitive about it.  Some religious people seem to think that they have a “God given” (for lack of a better term) right to government money and some non-religious people seem to think “I don’t believe in it therefore I shouldn’t have to pay.”  I think if a system/organisation/group of people benefits society enough then they have a case for getting some government funding.  Within reason of course.  I don’t condone a government going broke just to make people feel happier which is essentially all a National Day of Prayer does.  I think that trying to not have a National Day of Prayer simply because you don’t believe it is wrong too though.  It’s similar to the way Christmas is handled in some classrooms.  I don’t know about all public schools but some public schools don’t allow any kind of Christmas celebrations in class because some religious groups don’t believe in Christmas and say it is insensitive to their beliefs.  I basically see this as intolerance.  People seem to think “If I don’t believe in or agree with it then I want to be able to pretend it’s not there.”  I think the world would be much better if we learned to accept other people’s beliefs (theistic and atheistic alike) and let everyone have a little time in the sun.  Therefore, in response to the National Day of Prayer I propose we have a National Day of Debunking.  This is a day when scientists are encouraged to present factual (very important word) evidence to the media that debunks whatever they like.  Religion, psychics, evolution, creationism, the boogeyman etc…

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