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The National Day of Prayer (NDP)

Governors' proclamations for 2005

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Sponsored link.

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Overview: (Repeated from 2004 list)

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: (Repeated from 2004 list)

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. 1
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 2005:

bulletPresident George W. Bush inclusive proclamation stated: "I ask the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, each according to his or her own faith, for the liberty and blessings we have received and for God's continued guidance and protection." 2
bulletCharles Turnbull of the Virgin Islands wrote that "we must all band together to acknowledge our dependence on God to promote religious beliefs in whatever sect, creed or religion you may be a member of..."
bulletBob Riley of Alabama wrote that the NDP "...has proved to be a powerful tool that has brought together and united citizens from diverse religious backgrounds..."
bulletFrank Murkowski of Alaska urged Alaskans to "join millions of Americans across racial, political and denominational boundaries" -- but not inter-religious boundaries -- to observe the NDP.
bulletMike Huckabee of Arkansas included a rather amusing typo -- a misplaced space character -- in his proclamation: "...Americans will unite at specific time sin [sic] prayer for our nation and state to acknowledge our dependence on God ...and to ask God to heal and unite our nation and state."
bulletArnold Schwarzenegger of California stated that prayer is "an act shared by all religions," which is a debatable theological belief.
bulletM. Jodi Rell of Connecticut again referred to prayer as "both powerful and peaceful." Considering the use of prayer by terrorists worldwide, 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. Many religions teach that their deity does not respond to the prayers of non-believers.
bulletLinda Lingle of Hawai'i again 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 again acknowledged that "the citizenry of the State of Idaho are a diverse people, with nearly every national and variety of religious traditions being represented."
bulletRod Blagojevich of Illinois referred to "...prayer in churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other houses of worship across our country..."
bulletThomas Vilsack of Iowa referred to the NDP as "a great unifying force for our citizens from a diverse number of religious backgrounds..." In fact, its organization has often promoted disunity by excluded those who are not Evangelical Christians.
bulletKathleen Sebelius of Kansas wrote "Each community of faith deserves the recognition, respect and protection of all others..." -- an elegant statement promoting religious freedom and tolerance. This statement did not appear in her 2004 proclamation.
bulletErnie Fletcher of Kentucky discussed "Americans throughout the nation in venues of prayer, each according to his or her own faith..."
bulletKathleen Blanco of Louisiana again 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 229 years: America was founded upon the principles and truths revealed in the Holy Scriptures..."
bulletRobert Ehrlich of Maryland appeared to acknowledge that prayer can sometimes be a divisive force. He wrote: "Prayer can play a valuable and productive role in strengthening bonds of understanding, tolerance, friendship and unity among all people..." (emphasis ours)
bulletMatt Blunt of Missouri followed the tradition of his predecessor by referring to "the scripture" -- presumably referring solely to the Bible.
bulletBrian Schweitzer of Montana referred to "Montanans of every faith" and "the wonderful diversity of religious belief across America and Montana..."
bulletDave Heineman of Nebraska followed the example of his predecessor by asserted that "people have inalienable rights that are God-given..." He also acknowledged the NDP as "an opportunity for Americans of all faiths."
bulletRichard Codey, acting governor of New Jersey referred specifically to "Americans of all faiths."
bulletBill Richardson of New Mexico referred to the NDP as belonging to all Americans. "It is a day that brings together citizens from all backgrounds and respects the rich and diverse faiths that they include."
bulletGeorge Pataki of New York repeated his previous year's reference 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 repeated his 2004 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 described the state as "home to citizens of many faiths."
bulletBrad Henry of Oklahoma referred to "Americans of diverse faiths and backgrounds [who] share the cherished freedoms of religious expression and observance..."
bulletEdward Rendell of Pennsylvania repeated his 2004 comment 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 again 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 again 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 dropped his 2004 reference to "the importance and significance that this day has for people of all faiths." He made mention this year to "Tennesseans of faith."
bulletRick Perry of Texas continued a theme contained in his 2004 proclamation by referring to "...many Americans of all faiths regularly gather to pray for our nation, its people and its leaders."
bulletMike Warner of Virginia dropped his 2004 reference to the "Old Testament" a term that is offensive to some Jews. Instead, he used the term "the scripture" when referring to the book of Hebrews in the Christian Scriptures.
bulletBob Wise of West Virginia again 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 again 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 repeated his belief 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." However, he dropped his 2004 comment about God having blessed his state with a budgetary surplus and heavy snowpacks so that the citizens would continue to respect Him.

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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/
  2. "The National Day of Prayer Task Force: Turning a day of faith into a rally for the Christian Right," Texas Freedom Network Educational Fund, 2005, at: http://www.tfn.org/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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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: 2005-MAY-15
Most recent update: 2005-MAY-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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