Washington D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement in response to comments by Shirley Dobson, head of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, criticizing President Obama for not participating in their National Day of Prayer event. Interfaith Alliance sent a letter to President Obama on April 21, 2009 calling for an Inclusive Day of Prayer.

It is a shame that the National Day of Prayer Task Force seems to think it owns the National Day of Prayer. Once again, the Task Force is misrepresenting the purpose of this national observance. Because President Obama is choosing to observe the day apart from any association with Shirley Dobson’s organization, the National Day of Prayer Task Force has chosen to malign him and disregard the fact that his position is no different than Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him. Clarity would be most helpful here. President Obama is not the Pastor-in-Chief of the nation and Shirley Dobson’s Task Force is not the spiritual judge of the president’s personal or official actions.

Mrs. Dobson has every right to call for a National Day of Prayer exclusive to Christians who share her particular doctrinal beliefs, but she has no right to demand or even to expect that the White House will embrace a national event that is not inclusive of all Americans. A presidential proclamation on prayer and meditation should be distinctly different from a call to prayer issued by a narrowly-focused, sectarian organization.

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.