Established by President Harry Truman in 1952, the National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance, mandated by Congress, asking people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.” This day was intended to bring together Americans of every religion to express their faith in whatever way is appropriate for them.
For many years now, Religious Right activists have claimed this observance to propagate the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Private religious groups like the self-proclaimed National Day of Prayer Task Force organize events which are restricted to only fundamentalist evangelical Christians. These events often involve elected officials and have taken place at government buildings such as courthouses and state capitols.
The First Amendment prevents the government from codifying religious beliefs into law, favoring religion over non-religion, or giving special treatment to adherents of one faith and not others. Asking all Americans to observe a National Day of Prayer runs counter to these constitutional protections.
Faith and prayer play an important role in the lives of many Americans. But the government should not dictate if, when, or how we pray. True religious freedom protects our ability to follow the religious tradition of our choice or no religion at all, without government interference.
Protect Religious Diversity
This National Day of Prayer, we ask you to join us in our work to protect true religious freedom by asking your governor to support an Inclusive National Day of Prayer and Mediation.