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April 20, 2010

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

The National Day of Prayer and Reflection will be observed this year on May 6th. While we believe a call to prayer is best left to religious leaders and not the government, we would respectfully request that if you do issue a proclamation, that once again you call for an Inclusive Day of Prayer and Reflection as you did last year. We believe that an inclusive declaration that explicitly opens this day to clergy and believers of all religions, as well as those who profess no religion is in keeping with President Truman’s original intent.

As you know, a federal judge recently ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, but has allowed your proclamation to move forward during the appeal process. In light of this decision, it is even more important that this year’s proclamation speak to Americans of all faith traditions and belief systems.

We are compelled to make this request because in past years the National Day of Prayer was taken over by a group of religious exclusivists led by Shirley Dobson of Focus on the Family. In past years Mrs. Dobson’s group, The National Day of Prayer Task Force has represented itself in a way that led many to believe that they were the government sanctioned National Day of Prayer organizers. In fact, they clearly represent only certain evangelical Christians. While they have taken some steps this year to clarify their role, the casual visitor to their website would still assume that it is the official website of the National Day of Prayer.

We urge you to again issue a single proclamation for the day that calls for an Inclusive National Day of Prayer and Reflection that restores and reflects our nation’s best values by explicitly inviting clergy from diverse faith traditions to participate equally and fully – especially in events held on government property. 

With gratitude for the sensitivity and inclusiveness of your proclamation last year,

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy,              
President, Interfaith Alliance

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak,
Co-Director-Jews On First

Jane Hunter,
Co-Director-Jews On First

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.