Day of prayer more appropriately called for by religious leaders, not government


Contact: Jeff Huett | Phone: 202-544-4226
Cherilyn Crowe  | Phone: 202-544-4226 

WASHINGTON — Congress’ official designation and the President’s proclamation of a National Day of prayer is misguided and unnecessary, says a Washington, D.C.-based church-state organization.

K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said “a day of prayer is more appropriately called for by our religious leaders – not civil magistrates, Congress or even the president.”

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of telling the American people what, where or when to pray or even if they should pray,” Hollman said.

In 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution, signed by President Harry Truman, setting aside one day a year for prayer. Since then, presidents have proclaimed a day for prayer observed each year on the first Thursday of May. On April 30, President Barack Obama issued the proclamation of a National Day of Prayer to be held on May 6.

“Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation,” the proclamation states.

The Obama Administration has announced it intends to appeal a federal judge’s ruling in April that the statute establishing the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

“There is nothing wrong with the American people getting together to pray on a designated day, even public officials,” Hollman said. “In fact every day should be a day of national prayer.   

“The problem with the National Day of Prayer is that it is an official act of the government urging citizens to engage in a religious exercise,” Hollman said.


The Baptist Joint Committee is a 74-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty organization that works to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, bringing a uniquely Baptist witness to the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government.