How the Right Hijacked the "Day of Prayer"
The Texas Freedom Network has released a new report which offers a useful glimpse into the original intent -- and right-wing's hijacking -- of the National Day of Prayer, which happened on May 5:
Although originally established by Congress in 1952 as a day of prayer for people of all faiths, in recent years the National Day of Prayer has been co-opted by the religious right to advance a politicized, sectarian agenda. This is due in large part to a deceptive and deliberate strategy executed by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private organization that explicitly excludes participation by any non-Christian group in its programs.
In contrast to the original spirit of the event, the NDP Task force has cloaked the National Day of Prayer in a political mantle. Adopting the culture war language of the Christian right, the group explicitly instructs participants to pray about such social issues as "condom distribution, the promotion of homosexuality and a refusal to acknowledge God [in public schools]."
In addition to high-profile events in Washington, D.C., and many state capitals, the NDP Task Force also organizes local events in city halls and other venues around the country, more than 50,000 such "prayer events" in 2005. These events apply a strict religious test for participants, excluding not only non-Christian groups, but also disallowing participation by any non-evangelical Christians.
And as the report shows, all too many journalists and states have been willing to go along with this stealth campaign by the religious right. Read the full report here.
Chris Kromm is executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and publisher of the Institute's online magazine, Facing South.