Thursday, May 04, 2006

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer, an event made permanent (on the first Thursday in May) by Congress and signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1988, six years after the National Prayer Committee started pushing for it. Presidents had previously been able to declare National Days of Prayer whenever they saw fit, a tradition that became annual starting around 1951. Presidents can still augment this with additional National Days of Prayer, as Bush added a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance on September 14, 2001.

As I happen to be in Washington, D.C., very near the Capitol building, I'd like to check out the event on the west lawn of the Capitol tonight (unfortunately a previous dinner commitment overlaps with the event) and see whether the participants are able to reconcile their activities with the Bible, let alone empirical evidence for the ineffectiveness of prayer. In Matthew 6:5-7, Jesus condemns the false piety of "hypocrites" who pray in public, and advises that his followers pray secretly in their closets and not engage in "vain repetitions"--it's one of the most ignored verses in the Bible.

As the Freedom From Religion Foundation has pointed out for years, "nothing fails like prayer."


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