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Religious Tolerance logo

The National Day of Prayer (NDP)

Governors' proclamations for 2004

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The National Day of Prayer (NDP) was created by Congress so that Americans of all religions who believe in one or more Gods and/or Goddesses can pray together in fellowship. It has evolved over time into an almost exclusively Evangelical Christian event to the exclusion of non-Evangelical Christians and followers of other organized religions and none.

Almost all state governors issue annual proclamation declaring a Day of Prayer in their state or territory. Some are inclusive and refer to the wide diversity of religious belief in their jurisdiction. Others are quite exclusive, and seem to assume that everyone is either a Christian or a Jew.

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Governors' proclamations:

Governors of the fifty states and two territories traditionally issue proclamations declaring a National Day of Prayer in their states. They are personal documents and thus highly variable in content:

bulletMost of the governors' state proclamations of the NDP are directed only to Americans who believe in a personal God who responds to prayer.
bulletMany proclamations seem to assume that to be an American, one must also be Jew or Christian -- or at least a Theist who believes in a male God who rewards or penalizes Americans in accordance with their behavior.
bulletSome interpreted the NDP in a very exclusive manner, as having meaning only to Judeo-Christians. They exclude Deists, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and other Theists.
bulletHowever, a very few were more inclusive and reached out to those Americans of all religions, including those who are non-Judeo-Christians, Agnostics, Atheists, or who do not believe in the effectiveness of prayer.
bulletSome governors even make interesting theological pronouncements which are open to debate.

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A sampling of governors' proclamations in 2004:

bulletJanet Napolitano of Arizona referred to the NDP as the "National Day of Prayer or Reflection"
bulletM. Jodi Rell of Connecticut again referred to prayer as "both powerful and peaceful." Considering the use of prayer by anti-abortion terrorists in the U.S. and by religiously motivated terrorists elsewhere in the world, this is also a debatable theological belief.
bulletSonny Perdue of Georgia wrote that "regardless of our individual beliefs and faith practices, we have an assurance that God hears our prayers and faithfully responds to our humble petitions." This is still another debatable theological belief, particularly among some Fundamentalist Christian leaders who believe that "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew."
bulletLinda Lingle of Hawai'i referred to Americans praying "in churches and other places of worship." She also mentioned that the "diverse citizens of Hawai'i seek the freedom to worship according to their own conscience..."
bulletDirk Kempthorne of Idaho acknowledged that "the citizenry of the State of Idaho are a diverse people, with nearly every national and variety of religious traditions being represented."
bulletKathleen Blanco of Louisiana wrote "...the historical record of the United States, as acknowledged by the highest court of our land, reveals a clear and mistakable pattern woven throughout our nation's 228 years: America was founded upon the principles and truths revealed in the Holy Scriptures..."
bulletBob Holden of Missouri referred to "the scripture" -- presumably referring solely to the Bible.
bulletMike Johanns of Nebraska asserted that "people have inalienable rights that are God-given..." He did acknowledge the NDP as "an opportunity for Americans of all faiths."
bulletJames McGreevey of New Jersey referred specifically to "Americans of all faiths."
bulletBill Richardson of New Mexico referred to America having been "built by the people from hundreds of nations with as many beliefs, we rely upon our religious liberty in order to preserve the individuality and great diversity that gave our nation its unique richness and strengths of character..."
bulletGeorge Pataki of New York referred to the NDP being observed in "churches, synagogues, statehouses..." but not Buddhist, Hindu and other religions' temples, Islamic mosques, Neopagan circles, Sikh gurdwaras, etc. However, he did refer to New Yorkers joining "with people of all faiths to honor the legacy we share as a society whose strength is its inclusiveness based upon religiously-inspired values and an enduring belief in religious freedom...."
bulletMichael Easley of North Carolina made a theological statement "...that we are all God's handiwork and that it is appropriate to call upon Him in prayer."
bulletBob Taft of Ohio linked the NDP to his state motto: "With God All Things are Possible."
bulletBrad Henry of Oklahoma welcomed "my fellow Oklahomans to pray, each after his or her own faith."
bulletEdward Rendell of Pennsylvania stated that "we shall never overlook, forget or neglect the individual or group right to express religious freedom through prayer, mediation and personal reflection."
bulletDonald Carcieri of Rhode Island mentioned that "our national leaders have historically called on the prayers of the people, without regard to their religious affiliation..."
bulletMark Sanford of South Carolina wrote that "the National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans; it is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds and faiths...while honoring the commitment to religious liberty and tolerance that contributes to our continued strength."
bulletPhil Bredesen of Tennessee referred to "the importance and significance that this day has for people of all faiths."
bulletRick Perry of Texas wrote that "...many people turn to prayer and reflection to seek comfort, give thanks and ask for guidance."
bulletMike Warner of Virginia referred to the "Old Testament" a term that is offensive to some Jews.
bulletBob Wise of West Virginia referred to prayer being recognized by our leaders "...as vital to the maintenance of a strong national character and necessary to procure the blessings of a just and benevolent God...it is appropriate to honor God with a unified expression of gratitude and humbly request divine intervention in the preservation and continuation of strong religious principles upon which our nation and our state have been established."
bulletJim Doyle of Wisconsin recognized that "the citizens of the State of Wisconsin are a diverse group of people of nearly every nationality and represented by a variety of religious traditions." He referred to people gathering in their "churches...and chosen place of worship..."
bulletDave Freudenthal of Wyoming wrote that prayer "is a vital part of our national heritage as one nation under God" and that "God has promised to answer us when we call upon Him." He wrote that "God has blessed the state of Wyoming with a $1.2 billion surplus; the snowpacks of Wyoming are above recent year's levels; and God did this so that we would always have respect for the Lord our God."

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still valid today.

  1. "National Day of Prayer: Press Room," has listings of the current year and previous year's governors' proclamation of the NDP. See: http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/

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Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian history, etc > Prayer > NDP > here

Home > Christianity > History, beliefs... > Practices > Prayer > NDP > here

or Home > Spiritual topics > NDP > here

or Home > Religious information > NDP > here

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2003-MAY-15
Most recent update: 2005-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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