Written by Don Byrd

Thursday, May 4, is the National Day of Prayer. President Trump is expected to sign a proclamation to that effect, (update: read the proclamation here) as required by Congress. In addition, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today indicated the President will mark the occasion by meeting with his “Evangelical Advisory Board.”

A National Day of Prayer is one of those sounds-good-in-theory ideas, commemorating the importance of prayer in the lives of many Americans. But encouragement of religious activity would be better left to religious leaders than to government officials, as I wrote last year at this time.

Back in 2011, former Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director said it this way: “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…” 

A Day of Prayer proclamation may not be the biggest church-state issue we face, but that does not mean it is a good idea. Religion should be left to flourish on its own, without an official nudge from the government. The freer our prayer is from state interference, the freer we are.