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 celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.