Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy
May 5th, 2011
04:36 PM ET

Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Obama bowed his head silently Thursday after laying a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at ground zero in lower Manhattan.  He was in part playing the role of "pastor in chief," taking a moment with the nation to remember the fallen in the decade-long struggle against terrorism.

Last Friday, before he addressed the country late Sunday night to announce Osama bin Laden was dead, Obama issued his yearly proclamation on the National Day of Prayer.  Thursday marked the 60th observance of the day in the United States. In his proclamation, Obama called all Americans to pray for, among other things, the men and women in the military, to ask God for "sustenance and guidance," and to pray for those affected by natural disasters.

"The most popular function for presidents is chief of state, because it's the unifying function," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  "They love it  because it unifies people and it seems less political than when they have to make tough policy choices as head of government or brazenly political choices as head of party."

The National Day of Prayer was mandated by Congress in 1952 and President Harry Truman proclaimed July 4, 1952, as the first National Day of Prayer. Congress amended the law in 1998 and it now states:

"The president shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

The day has long been a jewel of conservative Christian groups like the people behind national organizing efforts, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, an independent group not affiliated with the government act based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The task force is headed by Shirley Dobson, the wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

On Thursday, people packed into a standing-room-only event in the gilded Caucus Room at the Cannon House Office Building.  The task force shuttled a series of speakers to the podium, which was draped in red, white and blue flag bunting.

An hour before the president laid the wreath at the 9/11 memorial, Air Force chaplain Brig. Gen. Howard Stendahl prayed for the commander in chief from the podium, "Grant to him by your spirit a great measure of wisdom and understanding, that he may command our nation's military and insurmountable power in the interest of justice, leading to lasting peace."

The speakers list was filed mainly with Christians, who lauded the 60th anniversary of the event.

The task force makes no secret it is a Judeo-Christian organization.  It says on its website, the group "exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America's leaders and its families."

Republican members of the House ducked in and out of the Caucus Room between votes to sit and listen quietly.  They bowed their heads as the speakers prayed for the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government.

While politicians seem to love it, the National Day of Prayer has long been a thorn in the side of groups who support a separation of church and state.

"When Congress in the 1950s decides to create a day for one kind of religious expression - that it is interfering with religion that ought to be a more private and personal matter - many of us are frankly insulted that Congress thinks it needs to tell us what day to be particularly prayerful," the Rev. Barry Lynn said.  Lynn is the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

This year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit saying the National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment's establishment clause.

On April 14 the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, saying the foundation does not have the standing because the law, "does not require any private person to do anything - or for that matter to take any action in response to whatever the president proclaims. If anyone suffers injury, therefore, that person is the president, who is not complaining."

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, said Thursday as she left the National Day of Prayer event that the court had ruled correctly.  "I think it's settled.  Clearly we have the right to pray and we're better off as a nation with prayer," she said as she hurried off to vote.

J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said that while "the idea of a national day of prayer is a good idea, it is just not government's job to tell us when or where or what to pray."

"It is not the job of the president or the U.S. Congress to mandate an act of religious worship," said Walker, who is an ordained Baptist minister and an attorney.

"I think it's always on the edge of inappropriate when a president thinks he is the pastor in chief instead of the commander in chief," Lynn said, adding that although he wasn't troubled by the president laying the wreath at ground zero, "I do think presidents need to be careful not to assume because they are the leader of the country they are the leader of everyone's religious life."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • DC • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

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soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Susan

    Its a proclamation not a mandate. No one is by any means required to participate. There is no retribution on those who do not participate. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. People can pray or not pray. People of all religions can pray in whatever way they deem fit. We need to lighten up a bit in this country IMO.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Susan – So what? A proclamation of governmental support is just as valid a violation of the First Amendment as a mandate. You just don't get it or you're just being deliberately obtuse.
      You want to lighten things up? Why not get rid of this stupid proclamation?
      That should be pretty easy, but you don't want that, do you?
      Not even in the interest of treating others with respect?
      You dis me I dis you. Your proclamation disrespects and violates my rights.
      I disrespect your violation of our laws and think you are being stupid about this. Why not admit you are wrong to support a government endorsement of your religion? Then we could at least move on...

      May 6, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  2. grist

    CNN: you dumb this down for us. The National Prayer Breakfast is a platform for "The Family" (a right-wing Christian fundamentalist group) to bring together powerful leaders to make deals. It is not about religion. It is about power. Instead this article aims to start still another debate about religion. How about telling us more about Doug Coe and the "Family"?

    May 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  3. WMesser58

    Hey I know let's have a national day of "NOT PRAYING" at tax payer expense. Everyone ask why non-believers get bent out of joint and it's always the obvious. Holy rollers think nothing is wrong as long as they get their way. My way is never to ask you to stop believing in fairy tales. My way is to not have to deal with you being condescending and including me. I had a division head tell a co-worker we would keep them in our prayers and thoughts. They blatantly assumed everybody prays. It insults anyone that has to put up with their inane self-righteousness. Go to your little buildings a waste all the time you want but, "LEAVE ME" out of it.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  4. Joann grimes

    Yes it is true that linsay exists god saw to it

    May 5, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  5. WMesser58

    The one time I agree with a religious group is that they can not and should not have a national prayer day. It's inane and they are using government facilities so yes they are spending tax payers money on something they have no right to do. They should not participate in any celebration of a religious fairy tale and stop trying to shove it down anybodies throat and excluding the other delusional cults who want equal time.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Locksley

    1. If you don't wanna pray, don't pray. It's that simple. No one is forcing you to pray to a God you don't believe in. Just like how no one forces you to celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Easter or any other religious holiday. No need to put down one, multiple, or all religions just because you don't agree with their practices or beliefs.
    2. I find it a little ridiculous (even as a Christian) to designate a National Day of Prayer. Seems to me like every day should involve prayer (*if* you believe in God. Like I said, if you don't, just don't pray. I wouldn't ask you to).

    May 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Mark Miner

    You guys wanted God out of our schools, out of our Christmas Nativity scenes, out of our Easter celebrations, out of our Pledge of Allegiance, even off our coins. Now you are getting bent out of shape because of a National Day of Prayer. Someone please explain to me how your rights are being violated and how you are being discriminated when you are not forced to pray, or even witness a prayer I bet. No one is forcing you to go to church, pray, or read a Bible. Yet somehow, I am shoving my religion down your throat. We fight you in court, get ruled against by a judge, and abide by the decision, yet somehow you are still not satisfied. What will it take? Turn all the churches into museums? Here's a thought, stop trying to enforce YOUR beliefs, or lack thereof, on the majority of Americans who worship God.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Peter F

      I liked your whole tirade up until the point that you suggested that many people fighting against religion in the public forum have a "lack of belief"... when in fact, the vast majority of these folks have a very strong belief that God does not exist. It's a religion of itself and should not have any more influence in politics than Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any of the others

      May 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Celt

      I believe God exists, just not as some nice guy in the sky who actually listens to you when you ask for things. Yes, I want religion OUT of politics and schools. That means ALL religion. You don't need a national day. You should keep your prayer to yourself and not make a spectacle of yourself if you choose to pray.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Mark – You shove your religion into our government and then complain when we finally do something about your violation of our laws?
      That's pretty disgusting..like a wife-beater who complains when he is caught.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Clues to the Clueless

      Well Peter, that's pretty stupid. No belief in any God is a religion. Right. Good thinking there, brainiac.

      Merriam Webster defines religion as "the service and worship of God or the supernatural". As atheists do not service or believe in any God or supernatural enti-ty, there is absolutely no way atheism can be a religion.

      We've heard that gibberish before, along with "Atheists are mad at God" and "science is a form of faith" and lots of other masterpieces of illogic, so not only are you wrong; you are unoriginal, a parrot for other people's ideas.

      Are there any other idiotic, ignorant, bigotted accusations you want to make before you go?

      May 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Mark Miner

      Really rogue? What laws have I violated as a Christian? When did I shove my belief down your throat? Nice comparison to a wife beater by the way, kind of like your equating yourself to a slave before the Civil War in a post up above. Show me where religion was shoved into the government, and I will be happy to show YOU where government has forced it's way into religion. Here's a thought–the free exercise clause–I should be able to pray freely, whenever, wherever, without any interference from someone else. If a National Day is recognition of that right, what is it to you? You have the right to believe in God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Yoda, or not believe at all. You do NOT have the right to not be offended when I pray, and others pray. Your tax dollars were not wasted here and if you feel that you are being oppressed, then feel free to rant and rave, sue, or write your Congressman. If you are not happy until God is completely eradicated from American society, then you will probably continue to feel oppressed all your life. That's a shame. There's so much more out there for you than to spend time getting riled up about religious expression. @Celt, I do not make a spectacle of myself when I pray, it's done in private or in church. If I pray in public, it is never out loud. If you were next to me, you might not even know I was praying. As for the National Day of Prayer, no one forces you to pray anymore than you are forced to plant a tree on Arbor Day. I'm not an environmental activist, but I do not get all bent out of shape when Earth Day comes around and people start going gaga about saving the Earth. @Peter, if atheists do not believe in God, what is that if not a lack of belief?

      May 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Peter F

      @Clue to the Clueless

      Ummmm... I never said science is a form of faith. But atheism sure is. No way to deny that. So in essence you have your faith that for some reason should be taken more seriously than faiths based on God/spirituality? That is discrimination, friend.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • Clues to the Clueless

      Oh Peter, your brainiac ways continue.

      Here is Merriam Webster's definition of faith: "Belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion." Nope, no way for atheism to fit that, either.

      Perhaps you should stop insisting that atheism be what you want it to be, and start finding out what it really is. Your ignorance is comically bad.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Peter F

      @Clue to the Clueless

      Well that's interesting because my Webster's says that faith means "belief in something." Well that really changes things, huh?

      You can avert your eyes from the truth all you want, but the fact of the matter is that atheists have strong BELIEFS just as much as the religious communities have strong BELIEFS. No one ever said they were facts, or we would not still be participating in this ageless debate.

      Oh and by the way, what do I "want atheism to be"? I didn't quite catch the drift of your comment there...

      May 6, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Rogue

      @Mark Miner – Yes, really.
      The laws that were violated with this national day of religious expression are the supreme laws of the land. The Constltution. That is the law that was violated with the establishment of this national "day of prayer".
      You just don't like getting caught as a Christian who supports this unconstltutional governmental support of this purely religious activity.
      So you know you did wrong, otherwise you would not go and accuse me of saying things I never said.
      I never said I was offended when you pray. You can mumble to yourself all you want. It ain't no skin offa my nose.
      But you don't need a "national day of prayer" as a way of bolstering your incredibly insecure religious beliefs. Hell no.
      Christians made this stupid holiday and you know it. You just don't like getting caught in plain sight.
      I mean really! A NATIONAL day of prayer? You couldn't just go off on your own like you are supposed to do? You needed this blatant piece of treason to show to each other and celebrate your "Christian victory" over our Constltution?
      Rank treason and you support it. I call you out on it and you pretend that I am not allowing you to express your religion freely.
      Well, here's a newsflash for you. You don't get to do everything you want in this country. You don't get to kill people in the name of your god and you don't get to make religious laws here.
      Keep your religion completely, and I mean fcking completely, out of our government! It has no place there in the governance of our melting pot.
      You don't like equality? Then go live in a different country.
      This is the US of fcking A!

      May 6, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Clues to the Clueless

      Peter, do I really need to teach you the basics of words and dictionaries? Okay then. We will use Merriam Webster's online dictionary, since it is available to all.

      Words often have multiple definitions. When you are talking about religion, "Faith" means (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion." The other definitions which do not pertain to religion, like the one you grabbed, apply to different usages, just as "fast" refers to velocity when talking about a car, but it refers to promiscuity when talking about a woman. Same word, different definitions, and they are not interchangable. Atheism is not a form of faith when you are talking about religion.

      Another example that gets you religious types is "theory." Christians love to claim that evolution and intelligent design are both theories, so they should both be taught at schools. However, let's look at the definitions. "Theory" when applied to evolution is defined as: "5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomen." As you see, Intelligent design cannot fit that definition because it cannot be shown plausible or a scientifically accepted due to its utter lack of supporting evidence. It does fit evolution perfectly, however, which has a massive amount of supporting evidence. So what definition fits intelligent design? Not 5, but 6b: "an unproved assumption : conjecture."

      Same word, different definitions.

      And now it's "belief." You have to keep jumping around when your last argument gets proven wrong. Fine. Here we go:

      Non-belief cannot be a form of belief. Nothing cannot be a form of something. Bald cannot be a form of hair. Non-living cannot be a form of life. Non-smoking is not a form of smoking.

      Or, put another way, by your own logic, your non-belief in Zeus is a form of belief in pantheism, and your non-belief in Allah is a form of belief in Islam.

      As to my statement that you are "insisting that atheism be what you want it to be", that means that you keep telling us what atheism is, like a form of faith and a religion and a belief, when the reality is that it is not those things at all. You want it to be those things so that you can insist that it is of the same status as religion ("should not have any more influence in politics than Christianity", "your faith that for some reason should be taken more seriously than faiths based on God/spirituality"), but it is not. Irreligion has as its support the fact that for all of the billions of facts and evidences in the world of how it works, not a single shred of evidence proves or implies the existence of any diety. That is religion's very weakness.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Peter F

      @Clue to the Clueless

      Wait, so you're really trying to say "belief in God" and "belief in something" have nothing in common? WOW. And you call me ignorant... Okay, let's break it down. Yes, I have a belief in a deity. I believe in the Judeo-Christian God Yahweh. And what about you? You believe that no God exists. You have FAITH that no God exists (I can say that and it's still English and everyone knows what I'm saying). So let's stop playing silly games of semantics and get to the core of the issue.

      And your comment about non-belief: now if you were an agnostic you really wouldn't care, would you? Agnostic is essentially non-belief. And feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but you're an atheist. And since we've been doing a lot of defining, let's keep going:

      Atheism: Ungodliness, a disbelief in the existence of a deity, the doctrine that there is no deity.

      Clearly atheism is rooted in the ASSERTION (*cough cough* belief) that no God exists. The doctrine (or teaching) of atheists such as yourself is that it is silly to believe in God, or anything supernatural whatsoever. We see that all throughout this forum. Think about it. When asked the question: "Does God exist?" What would you say? Where would your allegiance lie? We all know by now you have an allegiance. So let's stop pretending that this isn't really your battle and that you're not on one side or the other – and get real. You believe that no God exists. You believe Christians, Jews and Muslims are wrong. You believe that it is silly to pray to an invisible being. I can keep going...

      May 6, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Clues to the Clueless

      You've gone full cirlce. You are back to using the same words I have proven inapplicable. You are impervious to logic and evidence.

      You are the one playing semantic games right from the very beginning, with words like "faith" and "belief". I have been proving those games wrong. You do it again with "agnostic", trying to define it your way, but the real definition is: "a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god ." Totally different. An agnostic does not commit either way on the existence of any god, and thus is certainly not a non-belief.

      Your definition of atheism smushes three definitions together. Only the second fits, a DISBELIEF, which is not a belief. I have no doctrine, and have never met an atheist who did.

      As to your last paragraph, do reread everything I said about definitions above, because you are circling around to points I have already discredited and you have not in any way supported.

      Well, I'm done. I have shown in great detail that your entire argument is total garbage, and yet you persist. There is no point continuing. The last word is yours. Good night.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Rogue

      @Peter F – Sorry to intrude, but you are incorrect again.
      Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. I assert that you have no proof of one. All you have to do is cough something up, dude.
      All this wrangling goes nowhere if you can't admit that you are believing in a god despite all the facts show the contrary to be true.
      If you have some proof, we are not so close-minded as to dismiss it without examination. And it cannot be yet another bare assertion without anything to back it up either. You cannot prove anything with an endless circle of mere assertion. Only con-artists work that way.
      Or haven't you ever thought of that?

      May 6, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Peter F

      @Clue to the Clueless and Rogue

      Before I forget – I did it again, Rogue! I accidentally posted a huge long thing, the moderator got mad and made me change some things, and then when I fixed it and was ready to post I forgot to hit reply! So my long argument for God is on page 2 right now if either of you are interested in reading. But if not, do not worry. I will save it and use it in future instances!

      Clue, you're making me chuckle here. To break down definitions into everyday terms does not invalidate them. As far as agnostic "not committed to believing" is essentially the same as a non-belief. They have not committed themselves to taking a stance on whether God exists, whereas the atheist holds to the view that there is no God. How many more times do you want to go through this? You say you have no doctrine yet you're trying really hard to teach me some false doctrine right now. Additionally, the very definition of atheist (which we went over) points out that atheism is a doctrine. So I will persist as long as you're having trouble understanding some of these key terms.

      Rogue, check out page 2.

      Goodnight y'all!

      May 6, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  8. Ronnie

    Sounds illegal to me ! I thought the govt wasn't suppose to advance any one religion?

    May 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  9. C1SCO

    I purpose we re-name this day to "National Day of Magic Wishing and Spell Casting". There shouldn't be a day for believing in magic, that type of ignorance in believing that telepathy works should be looked down upon.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • C1SCO

      Propose ****

      May 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Ace

    If Obama is an atheist and lets us know it, he can't be elected. So he can never say he is an atheist. To be elected, like all politicians, he has to say he is a christian. But in reality he has to be a politician. He has to worship the god of politics, but like all good politicians, he must say he is a christian. This is all quite Orwellian. We are so lucky that the Romans didn't behead jesus. We'd all be worshiping a head on a stick.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Ace – Good one! I almost sprayed my monitor. Caught me mid-drink there. 😀

      May 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Ace wrote: "We are so lucky that the Romans didn't behead jesus. We'd all be worshiping a head on a stick."

      Cute... Reminds me of Lenny Bruce's line: If Jesus came back, was sent to prison and electrocuted, would people be wearing little electric chairs hanging from their necklaces?

      May 6, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  11. ijreilly

    Are there not enough Sundays to cover all your prayers. No, you're right, we need to nationalize it so everyone knows we should pray. They want kids to be taught moronic broze aged mythology as a competeting theory to evolution. They want their belief in God firmly injected into the pledge of allegiance to our secular country. They want the ten commandments erected in state buildings. They would rather people die miserable torturesome deaths so scientist don't do experiments with stem cells. They want it all their way and then cry, like little children, about how they're being persecuted by the big bad atheists. Wah-wah, get a bottle! These babies are the same people who roll around the ground on FOX propaganda outlet and cry how bad Islamic theocratic regimes are, but if given the chance they would take a Christian one in a heartbeat. They are the American Taliban.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • WMesser58

      @ijreilly I like how you think. Unlike the drones of whom you speak. You are dead on in your assessment.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      "They" in the above is a common caricature of Christians by non-Christians. Any resemblance to what real Christians think is mostly coincidental.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  12. paul

    yes,yes,same old s$#t,If you believe you must be delusional,if you don't then you must have all the answers.
    for those of us who believe we certainly don't have to prove anything to those of you who do not.Its all about
    Faith,a faith that's supernatural,given to believers of God,called the Holy Spirit.you either have him and believe, or
    dont and do not.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Celt

      Those of us who don't believe in YOUR particular version of God shouldn't have to listen to those of you who do, unless we can talk about our version of God to you, and force you to leave us alone and let us have our national day of prayer, too. How do you like THEM apples?

      May 5, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  13. Miracle Manna

    Have faith. Lindsay is testing you. Keep praying for world peace and she will deliver. Remember there are only 58 more shopping days until we celebrate the birth of Lindsay.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Jeremy Puttersfield

      Actually, it's 58 more shoplifting days before we celebrate the birth of Lindsay.

      May 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Jeremy -LOLOLOLOL!

      May 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  14. Woof

    National Day Of Talking To Your Invisible Friend Day was a major success.

    I have no invisible friends, so I prayed to Lindsay Lohan instead, and got better results than I got back when I had an invisible friend. I prayed that I would not be crushed to death by Godzilla, and Lindsay made it happen! I then prayed that HeavenSent and Adelina would make a lot of incredibly demented posts on this blog, and boy did Lindsay deliver there! These are the best results I've gotten so far with deities.

    I prayed to Lindsay for world peace, but she did not deliver that one. None of the other gods do either, no matter how many people pray for it, so Goddess Lohan is at least on a par with all the rest in that department. You would think that something like world peace or a cure for cancer would be the kind of prayer a real god would answer, but none has. It would almost make you think that there is no god, that what people mistake for god is just positive coincidence. But only a crazy atheist would actually believe something that ridiculous.

    So Lindsay Lohan is in the lead in the "God most likely to be the true God" contest

    May 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Golyadkin

      The difference between praying to Lindsey Lohan and praying to God is the fact that Lindsey Lohan actually exists.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Celt

      Yeah, and Lindsay wasn't out smiting people with earthquakes, floods, tsunamis or tornados. She's awesome! lol

      May 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Lindsay Lohan plays René Descartes

      I drink, therefore I am.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      If I didn't believe that Lindsay Lohan doesn't exist, would that mean she doesn't. Similarly, believing that God doesn't exist does not mean that He doesn't.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • LinCA

      @Bob. Since there is evidence supporting that Lindsey Lohan exists, yet there isn't a shred of evidence that your god exists, praying to Lindsey makes a lot more sense than praying to the FSM or any other figment of your, or anybody's, imagination.

      You are correct that the absence of evidence doesn't consti.tute evidence of absence (I'm paraphrasing here). But in the absence of evidence, there is no reason to accept existence of any of the thousands of gods. Therefor, accepting the existence of any god is unreasonable.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  15. Miracle Manna

    It is hard for me to believe that the top world leader does this in the 21st century, but the poplation expects it so on goes the tradition. The are only two Presidents in more recent years that the national day of prayer has any meaning. Jimmy Carter and Bush Jr. For all the others it's a a formality and they are just going through the motions to appease the masses. In this photo, President Obama looks as though he is deep in prayer when actually he is mentally rehearsing his speech or thinking about his daily itinerary. He might even be singing a song he heard earlier that morning. Everyone thinks he is praying when really he's singing the latest song by Snoop Dog. It's all for show.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  16. Kay C

    I am a Christian and I love the national day of prayer and celebrated both National Day of Prayer earlier today while watching the webcast and praying for those around me and my personal life and then tonight my husband in celebrated Cinco De Mayo by having tacos for supper.
    I do believe that National Day of Prayer should be for any Faith and Religions not just Christianity.

    May 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Rogue

      But the question is not only the separation of church and state, but equality under the law, which this national "day of prayer" does not give to all Americans.
      You are discriminating against me and anyone else who does not believe in religious nonsense with your "day of prayer".
      The SCOTUS made another mistake in not addressing this issue, preferring to duck and hide instead of acknowledging the standing of opposition groups to an unconstltutional law.
      These laws made in preference to religious people are rank bigotry.
      And Cinqo de Mayo is a Mexican holiday. How American of you to celebrate the holidays of other nations. But I suppose the tacos were tasty...

      May 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Kay C

      I do believe the national day of prayer is just something to lift up leaders and people of the country , its not going to harm you or anything. I am tired of people like you trying to walk all over us believers and quoting separation of church and state.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Kay C – It does harm me. That's what discriminatory laws do. They harm those that are discriminated against.
      YOU are the one walking all over ME! You shove your religion in my face and tell me I have to ignore it. I don't. I can take notice of your unconstltutional law and protest against it and I have the United States Constltution behind me!
      What do you have backing up your bigotry? Nothing but a book of lies and a majority of crazy people who share your delusion.
      People like you have shoved your religion into every facet of American life and yet this is never enough for you, is it? You still have to pretend that you are being oppressed when it is YOU doing the oppressing!
      And the separation of church and state is supposed to PROTECT your religion from the interference and the distortion of politics!
      Yet so many ill-educated Christians would rather believe the hatemongers and fearmongers that love to tell them that Christianity is being oppressed!
      Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. If you can't see this, then you are blind and ignorant. Christians have violated our Constltution more than any other religion.
      Take your smelly boot off of my neck and quit pretending to be oppressed.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Monson


      Truly, tell me how the National Day of Prayer actually hurts you. Is there something in it where people you know go off to pray and you're left behind? Are people coming up to you and praying in your face (Shakata Hakata Mackata)? Or, ignoring the physical aspect of being hurt by this law, how else does it "hurt" you?


      May 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • MarkV

      Actually Americans do have a reason to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Cinco De Mayo was the turning point in the French invasion of Mexico. The Mexican victory hindered Napoleon the 3rd's efforts to supply Confederate Rebels fighting in our Civil War. So on May 5th of 1862, Mexico inadvertently saved our Union.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Peter F


      Dude, it's just a party with an open invitation to all Americans. Either come or don't. No need to whine about it.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Melissa

      Which would be great – but the National Day of Prayer is a "Judeo-Christians only" day. There are never any members of other faiths present for the prayers. No other faith would ever be asked to lead the prayers – and even if they were, then the Christian community would be in an uproar for daring to be inclusive of other faiths.

      If you want a National Day of Prayer – great. Invite other faiths to participate.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Rogue

      @Monson – It is an unconstltutional law. That's how it hurts me. I'm an American. The U.S. Constltution is the Supreme Law of this land. Not your bible or your random interpretation of it.
      It encroaches upon my civil rights by violating my First Amendment protections. Legislatively creating a national "day of prayer" is a clear violation of the First Amendment. A totally and absolutely clear violation.
      Do I have to show a bruise or something? My rights as an American have been violated by rank legislative fiat that violates our highest law!
      I suppose you would ask a person of color if the bad words said to them actually "hurt" them or if the rank discrimination caused by unconstltutional laws actually "hurt" each one personally in a financial or physical way.
      Discrimination often is used to keep the victims silenced in addition to treating them in an unequal and illegal way.
      Your Christian religion has subverted my government. That harms me too.
      By removing the wall between church and state in creating this blatantly religiously motivated "day" of religious expression, Christians (who did this thing) have committed nothing less than treason.
      Now ask me how anyone committing treason hurts me. In this case, it is in the subversion of our government. When you are the target of a discriminatory and unconstltutional law, it's a little hard to ignore, for the damage has been done already.
      My rights have been violated.
      My country has been subverted to religious ends.
      My government has been subverted.
      And many unconstltutional laws have been written that violate my civil rights, not the least of which is my right to equality under the law.
      Shall I show you the lack of money I have had when I have been discriminated against?
      Or the lack of opportunities for personal business in a town dominated by Catholics who give their business to other Catholics?
      I may as well be a slave living before the Civil War.
      Oh, yes, I can show damage. I can show your smelly boot on my neck.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • BG

      Ah, yes... the air-raid siren rant of the offended atheist. If you listen closely enough you can hear his pulse pounding.

      Good grief, Dude... it's not that bad. Really. You're over-comping.


      May 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Susan

      I'm with you Kay. I am a Christian who participated in this Day of Prayer. I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state and that is extremely important to our freedoms. Yet I fail to see how this proclamation violates that vital separation. I maintain that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. If would government starts requiring people to participate or in some way penalizes those who do not then yes, that is wrong, but as it is it merely a day to encourage those who pray, to do so.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Rogue

      @BG – What? I was bored. And you can try to play it down all you like, but the facts are the facts. If you can't refute my words, just pooh-poohing them isn't going to do anything but show that you know I'm right and hate that I'm right.
      Blame yourself if you want, but I think you have brain damage. Sorry.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Maybe

      "...but as it is it merely a day to encourage those who pray, to do so."

      That's just it. The government of the United States may not encourage nor discourage religion or religious practices.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Joe

      @Rogue: Then grow up. You don't hear me whine when the atheists get to celebrate their day on April 1.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Bob Bales

      Rogue: Do people who prayed today get to drive 5 MPH faster? Do they get preference for a government job? No. All laws apply equally to those who do and who do not participate. There is absolute equality under the law.

      And what is discrimination? It is being forced to do - you must register because you are a Jew - or not do - you must not drink from this fountain because you are black - because of who you are. But you are not being forced to do or not do anything because you do not pray. You are not being discriminated against.

      Suppose that you did not know that today is the National Day of Prayer. How would you life be affected by it? Not at all. It would be indistinguishable from yesterday or tomorrow. The only effect on you is the effect you chose, which is neither discrimination nor oppression.

      I believe the President issued a proclamation for Ramadan. This did not discriminate against me.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • BG

      @ Rogue

      I'm up watching movies – now it's late. We'll save a belabored discussion on the dichotomies and conflicts inherent in the relationships between the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of 1A for later time. I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on the internet...

      "Air-raid siren rant" Ha! I crack me up.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • BG

      @ Bob Bales

      Aw, geez.. You went ahead and put a quarter in the machine. Now you'll have to watch it buzz and vibrate for a half-hour.

      Thanks for that.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • Rogue

      @Bob Bales – I am saying it's illegal first and foremost here. You are dancing around and not admitting this, which shows you know that it is, in fact, illegal.
      Don't like getting caught, do you? You just keep trying to squirm out of it, but you know it's illegal or you wouldn't avoid my focus on just that one single point.
      It's illegal.
      Get rid of it and those other illegal religious violations of the First Amendment and I won't be able to point at them, will I?
      You violate my rights as a non-religious person. I complain because you are violating my rights. You belittle my valid complaint and avoid talking about the illegality of the act.
      You are trying to say that an illegal act done for long enough in enough different ways makes it a legal precedent to violate the law in this way.
      This isn't the camel's nose under the tent flap, this is just one of a long line of crimes done in preference to your disp-icable religion.
      You don't like people pointing out the illegal crime here? Too bad.
      I'll say it again. It's illegal. Period.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Rogue

      @BG – And you aren't buzzing? Please. We're all bored here. I may leave after your wounding of my delicate feelings, though. 😛

      May 6, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • Bob Bales

      Rouge: I'll say it: The National Day of Prayer is NOT illegal. (I didn't mean to dance around your argument. But if you say "It's illegal" and I just say "It's not," we can have a shouting match, but not a discussion. I was trying to show that your arguments for it's being illegal are not correct.)

      You say your rights are violated. What right? What must you do or what can't you do because of the National Day of Prayer? If the answer is "nothing," as I firmly believe it is, then your rights are unaffected and cannot have been violated.

      So I'll be clear: The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion. Since the National Day of Prayer doesn't require or forbid anything, it does not establish religion. It does not violate the First Amendment. It is not illegal.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Rogue

      Posted in wrong place before:
      @Bog – It violates my rights to equality under the law, of which the Constltution keeps harping on and you keep refusing to hear.
      And it happens to say (if you would EVER read the damn thing for once!) is this from archives.gov:
      "Amendment I

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
      Shall make no law RESPECTING an establishment of religion.
      Not "establishing" a religion, though that is included in that statement.
      When you'd like to get a clue about your rights, just go read about them.
      The damn thing is illegal, Bob. The evidence is right there in the damn Constltution!
      Wake up and see and smell what you've been shovelin'. You've been sadly misinformed and this has affected your ideas about stuff.
      Disillusionment is the name of the game, Bob. Have some.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Bob Bales

      Rouge: What makes you think I haven't read the First Amendment? That I don't agree with you. The First Amendment says "Congress shall not...." But in creating the National Day of Prayer, neither the President nor Congress have done those things.

      You keep saying that this denies you equality under the law. What would this mean? By definition, it would have to mean either that a law applies to you and not to others or applies to others and not to you. But, clearly, the National Day of Prayer does not affect how any law applies to you or to anyone else. It has absolutely no effect on your equality.

      Knowing how you feel about this, I think I know how you would feel about church services in the House of Representatives. Well, who better to know what the First Amendment means than James Madison, who introduced the Bill of Rights into Congress. When he was President, he attended church in the House Chamber.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Rogue

      @Bob – If you disagree with a fact, that makes you an idiot, Bob. Period.

      May 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Monson


      You know what, I feel insulted and I also think that my rights have been violated because of National Day of Reason. The fact that there could ever be such a thing. OMG!! How could the government even allow such a day to exist! Don't they realize that it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and my RIGHTS!!. Man, I don't know what I'm going to do, I think I have to call my representatives or my senators, heck even The President of the United States about this one.........but then again......they'll probably just tell me to suck it up, so what's the point.......dang.......

      May 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  17. Cents

    Since when is actions that is based on faith (defined as the belief in something for which there is no evidence – if you had evidence it wouldn't be faith, it would be science) a good thing? I know we have the Santa Claus day, and Valentine's day, and Easter bunny day and Halloween day, which are all fantasy days so why not another fantasy day? Is there a shortage of people on the planet? Do we need to really have another fantasy day?

    May 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Faith is belief without proof, not belief without evidence. When/if you get on an airplane, you believe that it will get you safely to your destination. But you do not know that it will. So you are exhibiting faith. But if you had no evidence that the plane would get to the destination, you probably would not get on.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Rogue

      @Bog – It violates my rights to equality under the law, of which the Constltution keeps harping on and you keep refusing to hear.
      And it happens to say (if you would EVER read the damn thing for once!) is this from archives.gov:
      "Amendment I

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
      Shall make no law RESPECTING an establishment of religion.
      Not "establishing" a religion, though that is included in that statement.
      When you'd like to get a clue about your rights, just go read about them.
      The damn thing is illegal, Bob. The evidence is right there in the damn Constltution!
      Wake up and see and smell what you've been shovelin'. You've been sadly misinformed and this has affected your ideas about stuff.
      Disillusionment is the name of the game, Bob. Have some.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Rogue

      @Bob – Ahhh, Bob. I've wasted my time with you. I'm done with you. You remind me of your other names or maybe they were just as dumb as you.
      Regardless, you are definitely deranged in that post. Why anyone let you have a computer is beyond my understanding. You can't even sit in a chair without thinking it requires faith! What a complete and utter dumb-ass you are. You sound like Jeff. He was dumb in just that way too. Maybe you should get together with him and have lots of something. Babies, maybe.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:41 am |
  18. Artist

    How about a day of thought? I don't pray to myths so I guess I am out of this one.

    May 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • TheTruth72

      I agree, don't pray to myths. Pray to Jesus and the Father.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • UncleM

      One's a myth, the other is a delusion.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  19. JohnR

    We are still living under the dark shadow of the 1950s.

    May 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  20. SadieSadie

    I personally think it is great to have the whole religious community praying for the same thing. It unites us even for just one day.
    If you don't believe, then it is pretty easy to ignore the day and do what you want to do.
    For example, today is cinco de mayo and since I am not Spanish I will simply go about my day as normal.

    May 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Artist

      Actually, organized delusional people is scary to think about. Like people in the metnal ward organizing. 😮

      May 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Clue to the Clueless

      Sadie, Spanish people don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo: it is ostensibly a Mexican holiday. Mexico is like this whole other country from Spain.

      Cinco de Mayo is more celebrated in America than Mexico, and very few people (including Mexicans and Hispanics) know what it celebrates. Like St. Patrick's Day, it is really just an ethnic eat-and-get-drunk day of no real importance.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Xugos

      Artist, you must be very insecure about your own beliefs to put down someone else's beliefs so dismissively.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • TrinityLives

      @Clue to the Clueless

      Actually St. Patrick's Day is more than "just an ethnic eat-and-get-drunk day of no real importance" for those that actually know what the meaning of the day is, it's history, and it's importance.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Clues to the Clueless

      Trinity, I think we are saying something similar. My point is that to most people, those days are nothing but a bit of cultural awareness and a lot of alcohol. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of people who celebrate St. Patrick's Day know the significance of which you speak, any more than the fact that the majority of Cinco do Mayo revelers have any clue what happened that day and what significance that event had in Mexican history (almost none, by the way).

      May 6, 2011 at 12:02 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.