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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. Jeremy

    The National Day of Prayer should only be as offensive to a non-theist as Black History Month is to non-blacks. Nailed it.

    May 7, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I have news for you: there are African-Americans who do find "Black History Month" offensive...

      I find them both offensive... If you changed the name of the first one to "National Day of Self Delusion" thereby keeping it in accordance with Truth in Advertising, then it might be a bit more agreeable...

      May 7, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  2. momintum

    Our government, indeed all government, shouldn't promote any religious theocracy. Fair government is based on physical evidences and unbiased evaluations. Look at the consequences of religion when combined with government worldwide. Surely any reasonable perspective must conclude accordingly. Nothing hates like religion.

    May 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  3. Artist

    They should have declared it a Day of Thought or Meditation.

    May 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Raj Alexander

      lol, meditate on what ? Deepak Chopra and maybe have a couple of incense sticks on the side as well ! BTW couple of "Jesse Ventura " quotes might help drive home your point!

      May 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Rogue

      Chopra is a bald-faced fraud in my educated opinion. Death by incense might be poetic in his case...

      May 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  4. Melvin Brantley

    What is so difficult about understanding the first amendment?
    CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION...

    May 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  5. Cherokee

    To all the Christians- All we can do is pray for the lost! There really is no point in arguing with ignorance.

    May 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  6. SeanNJ

    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.

    We're better off only because that's a little less time you get to spend screwing things up for the rest of us. Please...attend an event every day from now till the next election cycle.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • civiloutside

      Her quote is ridiculous. "Clearly we hav the right to pray..." as if this law has anything to do with her right to pray. It doesn't – she and everyone else already have the right to pray completely independently of this law. The law itself does nothing but impose a Congressional compulsion for a prayer to occur, which most definitely does not protect anyone's rights.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  7. CW

    Once again some people on this blog are trying to "discredit" and "disprove" God. Doesn't matter...there not going to be able to do this.

    May 6, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Doesn't matter anyway. It isn't our job to disprove your myth. Until you can provide credible evidence for your god we just continue thinking you're nuts.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Drekker

      You cannot prove the non-existence of something which does not exist. Scientifically impossible. You cannot prove that leprechauns don't exist, nor unicorns nor Dionysus. And I imagine that there are idiots that belief in those things based on that.

      The burden of proof is on religious people: they are making the claim. They cannot do so because there is absolutely no evidence. The lack of evidence in itself is evidence that their claim is extremely improbable.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      CW...i sense that you are concerned that the some of what you see in the world does not fit your religious views, and that it makes more sense with out a supernatural being.... terrible suffering from natural disasters, starvation,disease.. all happening with out as much as a peep from god...I think you may even see that evolution makes sense, and it fits into what you see, it does not tell us how it all started. however,....and that good and bad people come from all sides not just non believers..which is the default position of religion. Prayers work the same way that coincidence does.. Humans working together make the difference.. whether as group such as a church, or as a company, or an NCO.. but to continue to credit and worship a god appears to be waste of constructive energy.

      May 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      CW..opps I see i missed a few words here and there.. and should be NGO.. sorry about that..

      May 6, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  8. Kenneth Henderson

    Dude, you're tripping badly. No scientist says that absolutely nothing existed before the big bang. Your whole point is horsesh!t. Nothing about the big bang proves a god. You don't know what your talking about.

    Because there's morals, there's a god? That's evidence to you? You cant imagine how humans can cooperate and treat each other nicely without a religion threatening them?

    I bet you can't name these fantasy atheists who agree on that morals point.

    Fantasizing about feeling god's will and experiencing him is evidence?

    I think that clue guy needs to give you a definition of evidence so you can find out you haven't provided any.

    May 6, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • Little Bill

      Aw leave him alone. He's just a very confused old guy who cannot debate because he cannot think. He's just belching up other peoples ideas anyway.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:38 am |
    • Raj Alexander

      Kenny dude, maybe you can join "Artist" and do some meditation ,just suggesting...

      May 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Kenneth Henderson

      Thanks for the constructive, intelligent, on-topic addition to the conversation, Raj. Some brainless people with no ideas at all might have just copped out to an ad hominem cheap shot, but you kept it on a high intellectual plane.

      May 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  9. Peter F

    @Clue to the Clueless

    Oh, and I figured it would probably be a good idea to address your last assertion that there is no evidence in favor of a deity. Well that is flat out bogus. I don't see enough defense of the faith on this forum, so I might as well point out some pieces of evidence that have apparently been overlooked:

    1. Where did everything come from? And before you get all worked up, I believe in evolution. I believe the earth is billions of years old (and I can't stand creationist arguments either). All that said, I believe that the facts point towards a ultimate creator of the universe. Based on what we understand from science, energy, matter, space and time all originated at the Big Bang. Stuff came from nothing according to the atheist. Isn't that contradictory? Now there has to be a cause... which must be an uncaused, timeless and changeless being. Now is it more probably that God (the uncaused, timeless, changeless being) caused these things to exist? Or did everything just pop into existence into a template that just popped into existence? I would say that is very strong evidence for God.

    2. Objective moral values cannot exist without God. (Many atheists agree on this point). Those atheists tend to argue that what we see as morality derives itself from social and behavioral evolution. So to the atheist, pure ethics is actually illusory since we're basically just talking about survival of the fittest and adaptability into a culture or society that protects life. In the absence of God, how can the evolution of mankind from apes have anything to do with objective morality? What is the point of life? Are we going anywhere? Do we as human beings have any objective and real value? The atheist can make the claim that actions such as murder or r@pe are not socially advantageous and become taboo, but they cannot be classified as "wrong" since there are no objective moral values. But you and I both know that objective moral values really do exist. Trying to find a way to deny that would be silly. R@pe, murder, thievery, torture and child abuse are morally wrong. They are abominations. While on the other side of the spectrum, love, generosity, equality and self-sacrifice are truly good. So if you recognize that these traits are objective moral values, it follows logically that you must believe God exists.

    3. God has revealed himself personally through Jesus Christ. New Testament critics almost completely agree that Jesus was a 1st century Palestinian male who came on the seen as a sort of prophet who believed he had divine authority. And that is why Jewish leadership later crucified him on the charge of blasphemy. The events surrounding the crucifixion are the ones most central to the Christian message and also the ones that must be examined with every bit of scrutiny. The evidence indicates that Jesus' tomb was found empty on the Sunday following his crucifixion. Most scholars and even CRITICS accept the empty tomb on historical grounds... additionally, the evidence points towards many individuals and groups of people having seen appearances of Jesus standing and walking and speaking after his supposed death. Witnesses of Jesus consisted of not only his followers, but skeptics and even enemies. And then what about the rise of Christianity? How did it arise and grow so fast? The majority of scholars believe the religion came into being because the disciples truly believed that God raised Jesus from the dead. If you don't believe in the resurrection, fine. But where did the disciples come up with such a radical claim? This was not something that the priests and Jewish leaders were looking to in a messiah (or post-death resurrection). Some atheists have claimed that the disciples were delirious or simply lying, but so many people saw Jesus up and about after his death that this is an absolute impossibility. There is really no plausible naturalistic explanation for any of these facts. There is plenty of reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be.

    4. You can experience and know God. This isn't as much an argument for God as it is simply a claim that you can know God apart from arguments. As he is, by definition, above and beyond the natural realm (which science is limited to). People from the Old Testament, the New Testament and beyond have all recognized a type of divine will interacting with and directing their own wills, bringing joy as an experienced reality. I have experienced him personally. The arguments can often draw us away from God as we are not seeking him... we are battling over words and ideas. But we are told in Scripture to seek God, to ask of him, to knock at his door. And then will we see him. So in essence, to find God is to realize that he does not primarily reveal himself to the one trying to pinpoint him in the atmosphere or the universe or within frameworks and arguments (though you can see evidence for God in these places). He instead reveals his heart to those who are truly seeking it to know him. If you do not want to know God, you will not know him.

    Now, you can argue (as many have) that these pieces of evidence do not give you enough reason to believe in God, but you cannot deny that they are pieces of evidence. As science has no plausible alternative to these claims, it just goes to show that God is the most likely cause and reason.

    May 6, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Peter F

      Oh, and before I go off and forget about this post... I owe a lot of the work putting these arguments together to Dr. William Lane Craig, one of the most influential Christian apologists of our time. Thanks for sharing the wisdom, Bill!!!

      May 6, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Rogue

      1.You conveniently move your god away from any attempt at examination by saying he is so far away and unknowable. That was easy that one was.
      2.This one throws up a bunch of "whodunnit?" questions without addressing the need for the requisite proof needed to start with before one can move on to "whodunnit?" questions.
      As for "objective" moral values, they have more to do with our biological consciousness and how we relate to other beings like ourselves than any supernatural cause.
      If we were intelligent blobs of dark matter, what morals would we have?
      Conscious self-identification and self-awareness can either extrapolate into empathy, sympathy, etc. or not. Morals such as you describe are not guaranteed in any way by our biological limitations but are randomly determined by our environment and how we evolved. There is no objective moral nature inherent in a collection of organic molecules. One has only to look at the various types of life we can all study to see that there are too many different ways an intelligent organism could arise.
      The corollary differences in the "moral" activities would refute any such claim to there being a "moral" structure to life as we know it.
      That one took a while but moving on to...
      3.Is pretty whacked in the head. Lots of lies and exaggeration with a bit of presupposition mixed in quite liberally. I am not wasting my time with this one.
      4.This guy totally disintegrates and says that all proved something. Yet there was no evidence but an ID argument to say that we cannot know anything about "God", a rant of "whodunnit?" additions to the ID argument, and then devolves into a slathering mess of "goddidits" and that we must believe before we can have a hallucination.
      No thanks. I'll stay with my bottle of water at this time. Cheers.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Rogue

      @Peter F – Your Dr.William Lane Craig is a lame excuse for an apologist.
      I really cannot believe he is actually influential in any large way unless there are more suckers like you around, I guess.
      You should get a refund. You really, really should.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • Peter F

      @Rogue and whoever else... blah blah blah

      Gad... tried to sleep but my brain is still operating on maximum capacity. Hate it when that happens in the late hours...

      Anyway, I love it how you avoided the crux of the arguments one by one. Let's go through your slippery retorts, shall we?

      1. I didn't say God was far away and unknowable. I said he is the reason everything exists. Care to explain your thoughts on this one?
      2. You are correct in saying that there is "no objective moral nature inherent in a collection of organic molecules." But that is because from the Christian viewpoint, we are more than that. We have body, and then we have spirit and soul. The crux of the matter is this: you cannot say that r@pe, murder, torture, prost1tution, stealing, etc are objectively wrong. This is important! The atheist cannot make this claim. These acts may be harmful to society, but what if you can get away with it without getting into trouble? Why not do it when it leads to your personal success/happiness/etc? Not objectively wrong, no reason to hold yourself accountable. When in all reality, we know that these things are wrong to the wrongest degree, hehe.
      3. Lies? I didn't see any lies? I didn't say everyone agreed with every aspect of the history here, but most secular and Christian NT scholars do agree on the basic points surrounding the empty tomb and the brisk rise of Christianity. And even without citing sources, you still must have asked yourself at one point how Christianity became so big so fast? And since so many people saw Jesus and knew the disciples, this couldn't have been some little cover-up. So how do you respond to that? (We can get into more of this later if you specify what you consider a lie or an exaggeration.)
      4. I told you this was not as much an argument for God but a way to know him. And if you don't want to know him, you won't know him. Just by using your term "hallucination" you are proving my point. If you are set in stone that God doesn't exist, then you will not ever see him. Let's use this in an analogy. If you fill your cup to the brim with sand, you can't fit any big stones in the cup too. You've invested yourself so much into the sand (refusal to believe) that there is no room for the bigger stones (God). Empty the sand, brother! I have hope for you.

      Considering you haven't refuted any of the evidences, I think Bill has done a pretty good job.

      Okay, sleep time take 2!

      May 6, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Rogue

      @Peter F – So you're saying it's too late to get a refund. Oh, you poor, poor man. I would pray for you but there's no cure for stupid and prayers are not answered by your "god" but your own mind.
      If you cannot control your own mind, what does that say about your morals? Your god? Your claims of sin? Of faith? Or the things you say you feel?
      You will not understand if you cannot see where I am coming from.
      I know where YOU are coming from: Suckerville. Population: You.
      I left and I'm not coming back.
      Enjoy your hallucinations. They are all you have.

      May 6, 2011 at 3:48 am |
    • Peter F

      So you got nothing else for me? No responses to my evidence? I am honestly shocked that you gave up so early... I guess that goes to show you how strong the evidence really is! 🙂

      May 6, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Peter F

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0DT6uljSbg

      I found this rather appropriate.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Drekker

      Buddy, it would really help if you got your science for scientists instead of from cartoons.

      May 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • civilioutside

      Peter F – short response because my time is limited today.

      1) False choice. The alternatives are not limited to either a) everything came from nothing or b) god created it. There are plenty of theories out there that include an eternal framework that don't require that framework to be some self-aware deity.

      2) Ra-pe and murder are clearly not objectively wrong if you're using god as your objective moral standard, because he repeatedly and specifically orders both things to occur. The mere fact that human feelings about certain acts are so deeply rooted that we are willing to call them "right" and "wrong" does not make them objectively so.

      3) This you're going to have to back up. While the fact that Jesus lived is as certain as any historical thing can be, the empty tomb and the post-Resurrection sightings are far less so. You'd have to give non-Biblical historical references for all these people who supposedly saw it happen – the fact that the Bible claims 500 people saw Jesus after he was resurrected is no more proof that those 500 people existed than the fact that The Two Towers claims 10,000 people participated in the Battle of the Hornburg means that any of those people existed.

      4) This amounts to saying "once you believe god exists, you'll be able to convince yourself that it's true."

      May 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Peter F

      @civiloutside

      Glad to read your response... let's get into it!

      1. Okay, name a theory that you feel has a good deal of credibility and we can discuss it.

      2. They aren't? I'm pretty sure most scholars of the faith (Christian and Jewish) put a lot of stake in the laws, ten commandments, and teachings of Jesus which say both that we should not murder or commit adultery (or even think hateful or lustful thoughts!). But that's beyond the point. So if I asked you if it is objectively wrong to kill someone for the pleasure of doing it, you couldn't say yes. You know that, right?

      3. I do recognize that I have a lot of work to do digging up references. I was just trying to crank out this whole argument last night – and I still have a ways to go. Others have said this same thing... so trust me when I say that I will get you some theist and atheist sources regarding the beginnings of Christianity.

      There is one flaw in your argument about post-Resurrection sightings, however. If we accept some of the major events surrounding the four gospels as being true (the existence of Jesus, that he was from Nazareth, that he was crucified for making claims of divine authority, and that his followers believed he was God... which they certainly must have considering how much traveling and preaching they did) then we can put a lot more stake in the truth of the biblical claims surrounding it. It certainly does not PROVE those 500 people existed and saw Jesus, but if the claim was that they were interacting with a historical figure and this was all written down in a gospel (which by its very genre tries to represent truth) then that claim has infinite more credibility than something out of Lord of the Rings which everyone accepts as fantasy – including the author.

      4. You say that "this amounts to saying 'once you believe god exists, you'll be able to convince yourself that it's true.'"

      However, that is not the case at all. A better way of putting it is, "You can't see the trees until you open your eyes."

      Looking forward to more!!!

      Blessings

      May 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Peter F.. what are your thoughts then on where god came from?

      May 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Robert Hanson

      Cool cartoon! I loved the part where he defined virtual particles totally incorrectly, and used all those logical fallacies instead of honest reasoning. And a stereotype of the atheist, what a wonderful example of bigotted Christians at work!

      Bigotry, deceptive inaccurate argumentation – it must be totally true.

      May 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Peter F Are you an ID er...where the intelligence comes in our design though has never been explained. If we were made by a designer it could have made us with out the need to eat..there.. solved world hunger that easily.. But then who made the designer? and it must have been more complex than him and then..you get the problem..

      May 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Joseph Yossarian

      Here is another good cartoon.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk&feature=player_detailpage

      Notice how it supports the argument by giving references to everything said?

      May 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Peter F

      Wow, I'm gonna have to start my very own fan club. So many responses... 🙂

      @Evolved DNA

      As I stated in my opening argument, God is the creator, and therefore the uncaused, changeless, timeless being. Because if we're talking about all matter and energy coming into existence at one point, then it must be the case that the creator is uncaused and eternal. If you go up the ladder at some point you will have a cause for all of it. Even atheists believe that, while inserting a scientific reason or theory instead of God.

      @Joseph Yossarian

      Yep, I've seen that cartoon before... but I don't know what it has to do with our discussion.

      May 7, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      May 7, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Reality

      The lastest from astrophysics:

      Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, stocha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-garies of its local star.

      May 7, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Q

      @Peter F – "As I stated in my opening argument, God is the creator, and therefore the uncaused, changeless, timeless being."

      You're arguing by definitional fiat, i.e. to avoid the infinite regress of first cause, you simply assert it doesn't apply to your explanation but then invoke "first cause" to argue against a virtually infinite range of possible materialistic explanations. In any case, no evidence to support your view and to insert "God" into a present gap of knowledge is not an exercise in sound reasoning.

      May 8, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  10. john

    THIS WEEK ALL OF OF US CAN AGREE ON ONE THING. GOD BLESS AMERICA! 🙂

    May 6, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  11. ijreilly

    Atheism- The non-belief of supernatural. Theism- the belief that one or more Gods may be present. All it takes to convert an atheist to believe in the supernatural- evidence of your God. Faith, sorry, isn't evidence, it's something you hope and wish to be true. So why should I believe in a Xtian God versus a Muslim God, if we are going off faith?

    May 6, 2011 at 2:20 am |
  12. Cherokee

    This great country was built and based on the word of God! If you don't like it leave! Not a single person is being held hostage to stay in the land of the free!!!

    May 6, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Rob in KS

      No, it actually wasn't...or the founders would have explicitly mentioned it. Sorry, but those are just the facts.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  13. Susan

    Rogue, I am not sure why you take my posts so personally. I did not intend to "dis" you or anyone in particular, merely state my opinion. I honestly have not read much of your posts and was not responding you to in particular-I was responding primarily to the article. . I will not admit I am wrong, nor will I engage in a useless debate where neither of us will change the others' mind. Instead I will respect your opinion and beliefs and maintain I never dissed you or anyone who has posted, I only have a different opinion and if you take offense to that then you do not understand tolerance.

    May 6, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Rogue

      @Susan – I understand tolerance quite well. It is you who are intolerant of my position against illegal activity at the national scale.
      The national day of prayer is illegal. Period.
      You want to pray? Go ahead. But you don't need our government to make a national endorsement of religion do you? I mean really. Are you that insecure in your faith?
      Why not just get rid of this illegal proclamation? Why is that not on the table here? You won't admit you're wrong. Well that's nothing new with Christians. You hate being held accountable so much your whole religion is based on it. Illegal activity is easy for you if religion is involved.
      That's why I take any infringement upon my rights so personally in this case.
      They are being violated and the reason they are violated is religious in nature. Another clear point where you are wrong to support this illegal act on your religion's behalf.
      You can have different opinions than me. That is not the issue here.
      Violation of the law is the issue here.
      If you cannot agree that this is a violation of the law in the face of all legal precedent to the contrary, then you are a waste of MY time.
      If you cannot see that I have valid reasons to be offended, then it is you who do not understand.
      The facts are on my side. If you don't want to argue about it, fine.
      I just want justice and equality and a few other things.
      I am an American. You are something a little less than that.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Rob in KS

      @Rogue – It's just like "In God We Trust" on our money and "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance... NEITHER of which were included in the original versions and were added in the 1950's when we were fighting the "godless" communists. The right-wingers, i.e. Christians, are blind to the violation of the First Amendment because it is not their rights that are being violated.

      May 6, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  14. bu

    ALL Religion is a disease of the Mind! Be part of the cure, not the problem!

    Help cure the religion disease!

    May 6, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  15. ShaneCo.

    "Clearly we have the right to pray and we're better off as a nation with prayer. The former is correct, but the latter is not so much: although evidence supports that religion does comfort a massive amount of people – temporarily – a lot of the time (however, evidence also exists that suggests that being religious in certain situations – such as knowing you are being prayed for to recover from cancer but your health ends up not improving – actually intensifies despair) we also have evidence that highly secular nations – America not being one of them – have less crime, better societal health, and higher overall quality of life. So we're actually not better off as a nation for putting so much stock in prayer and religion, Mrs. Bachmann.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • unbeleiver

      And what NATIONS are you talking about??? You have NO facts just your MENTAL figures. Back to the rubber room for YOU

      May 6, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Q

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article571206.ece

      There are other resources out there but simply google "atheism country" and then cross reference the lists you see for statistics for violent crime, etc. To my knowledge it's a fairly consistent correlation in developed countries but of course, correlation is not causation...

      May 6, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Neal

      Australia, canada, the nordic countries to name but a few. They are much better off than we are in terms of how far they have come without religion. We will make that happen in america too. P

      May 7, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  16. Susan

    One last post....The very fact that people can say pretty much anything they want about our government, people's religious beliefs or lack of them. And not only disagree but actually mock one another, then I'd say that proves that our freedoms of speech and religion are pretty secure (as is our right to act like little children when we disagree....). If some politicians misuse this day, call them out, but that does not mean the proclamation itself is to blame.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • John

      Hear Hear!

      May 6, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Q

      I would completely agree if the proclamation weren't mandated by an act of congress. It's not a "National Day of Prayer" that's objectionable, it's that this purely religious exercise is required by a law which is in clear violation of the Establishment Clause. IMHO, the president is free to make this or any other religious proclamation under "free exercise", congress however, is not free to enshrine a legal mandate for a president to make this exclusionary religious proclamation.

      The common arguments claiming no "injury" to those who don't participate fail to properly acknowledge that alienation within one's community does represent an injury. I believe in much of the civil rights litigation the focus was on specific instances in which applications of the "separate but equal" doctrine were anything but "equal", however, these deliberations also considered the social-psychological impacts of "intangible" harms. One need only look at polling data to see that atheists and non-believers are the most reviled segment of the population, more than Muslims, ho-mos-exuals, etc. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=1786422&page=1

      A law, which by exclusion, effectively perpetuates this mindset is actually harmful.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Maybe

      Susan,

      If religious leaders want to proclaim a National Day of Prayer, fine. They can even proclaim *every* day as one, if they wish. The U. S. government may not.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Rogue

      @Maybe – Well said and much shorter than my lengthy posts. Thx

      May 6, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Bob Bales

      Neither the law nor the proclamation itself requires anyone to perform any religious act. Therefore, there is no establishment of a religion.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Q

      @Bob Bales – That no one is required to pray is not at issue. The law mandates the presidential proclamation of a purely religious exercise. Again, "establish" has been interpreted to mean "officially endorse" which is what the law requires. Also again, the Establishment Clause language is "of religion" not "of a religion".

      May 6, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • wipe0ut

      @Rogue
      It "wasn't a lenghty post" but babbles.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • civiloutside

      Bob Bailes – technically, the law requires the President to perform a specific religious act, and requires him to do it on his official capacity as head of state. It violates his rights as a citizen, in addition to being a Congressional mandate to endorse a religion.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  17. Steve

    Love the history behind it, and hope it continues.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  18. Susan

    Here is what a presidential proclamation is and a list of other such observances. Very threatening I must say.......Mother's Day is up next-better send your mom a card or the government will get you!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_observances_in_the_United_States_by_presidential_proclamation

    May 6, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • John

      Interesting list, but you're incorrect (unless you were joking, in which case the rest of this is just useless :)) when you say it is threatening. I respect the fact that the Government can recognize that the majority of its citizens believe in God. They're not saying, "Worship or else", but instead stating that they respect the tradition of those who do. Even if someone is completely atheist, I think we can all understand the meaning behind the day.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Rogue

      @John – Yes, we can all understand that this is a bald-faced violation of the First Amendment and that the meaning behind it is that of the Christians who put it into motion.
      The threat is already fulfilled. The violation has already been committed.
      Now we see the proof that the separation of church and state needs to be enforced with everything at our disposal. You Christians have violated our country. Now we complain and you don't like it. Too bad.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Bob Bales

      Rouge: The First Amendment prohibits the government from requiring anyone to participate in a religion. What religion does the National Day of Prayer require anyone to participate in? None. How does it violate the First Amendment? It doesn't.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Q

      @Bob Bales – Not speaking for Rogue, but the relevant language of the 1st amendment is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Establishment here can been interpreted to mean many things but according to precedent essentially means "official endorsement". You might notice that the language is "of religion" and not "of a religion". All that's required to violate the Establishment Clause is a law officially endorsing some religious exercise (e.g. prayer) which is exactly what the law mandating the presidential "National Day of Prayer" is doing.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Bob Bales

      I believe the purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit America from having a state church, such as existed in Europe.

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

      Another point: If any government endorsement of religion is prohibited, then how is it that James Madison, who introduced the legislation setting forth the Bill of rights, and Thomas Jefferson attended church services in the House Chamber. In fact, Jefferson attended a service there two days after he wrote the letter containing the famous phrase "a wall of separation between church and state."

      May 6, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • civiloutside

      Well, Bob, there's a pretty significant difference between attending a prayer in a government building and having said prayer being a Congressionally mandated government function.

      May 6, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Q

      @Bob Bales – Jefferson and Madison didn't limit their intent simply to a "state" church, but rather, any effort by the state to promote religion. Jefferson's writings on the proper role of government with respect to religion are very clear. The letter to the Dabury Baptists was responding to their fear of improper State involvement (in promoting a majority religious view and/or imposing upon their own) in religious affairs. Jefferson makes clear that his view was that the State has no legitimate role in advocating any religious exercise and that the individual liberty of "free exercise", by natural law, is inherently limited to individuals. In matters of religion, he found it unconscionable that a government might use tax money obtained from an individual of one belief and use it to advocate for the religious practices of another belief. I suspect you actually feel the same way, i.e. you wouldn't want tax dollars used to advocate a religious belief contrary to your own.

      As already stated, that these two may have attended church services in a government building is irrelevant to their views of the proper relationship between the state and the individual in the most private matter of conscience, i.e. religious belief. Those who try so hard to dilute the separation provided by the Establishment Clause should consider that the religiosity of America, both in diversity and proportion of adherents, is the result of this separation. Consider this quote from Tocqueville's "Democracy In America" (chap 17 – "Principal Causes Maintaining The Democratic Republic"):

      "On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; I sought especially the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different creeds and are especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and explained my doubts. I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point."

      May 8, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  19. Brian

    I have to smile when I see a politician praying in public. Kind of like a three dollar bill.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  20. Reality

    Put down your worthless rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows and bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of your children and aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the Commandments of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      But my religion tells me to labor in prayer and to pray always.

      May 6, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • SupremeAmerican

      LoL fun time is now.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjW8SWuyuvs&w=640&h=390]

      May 7, 2011 at 3:22 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.