As is custom on the first Thursday of May, President Obama will proclaim Thursday, May 7 as the National Day of Prayer. Every year, I try, in so many words, to explain why it makes sense to love prayer but to hate the National Day of Prayer. I am not arguing it is unlawful; I am saying it is a bad idea. And it is certainly, as the BJC has argued before, unnecessary.
This year, I don’t have to say it, because someone else has done such a great job. Today’s must-read is a column in Huffington Post from Andrew Daugherty, Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church of Denver in Colorado, entitled “Jesus Doesn’t Need a National Day of Prayer.” Here is an excerpt:
Here’s the thing: despite this intended practice of uniting, guiding and healing, in actuality, this “spiritual occasion” (which is officially a federal government-endorsed occasion) can make such a day feel like a watered-down version of authentic prayer.
Prayer by its essential nature is God’s business, not government business. The state’s job is not to administer such a sacred function any more than clergy or houses of worship are to endorse politicians, pass legislation, or plan road construction projects for America’s interstates. Further, religio-political leaders searching for political style points should not desecrate prayer in order to earn it.
Read the whole thing. And get ready – the National Day of Prayer is upon us. Public displays of piety may be moving into your area.