April 20, 2010
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
The National Day of Prayer and Reflection will be observed this year on May 6th. While we believe a call to prayer is best left to religious leaders and not the government, we would respectfully request that if you do issue a proclamation, that once again you call for an Inclusive Day of Prayer and Reflection as you did last year. We believe that an inclusive declaration that explicitly opens this day to clergy and believers of all religions, as well as those who profess no religion is in keeping with President Truman’s original intent.
As you know, a federal judge recently ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, but has allowed your proclamation to move forward during the appeal process. In light of this decision, it is even more important that this year’s proclamation speak to Americans of all faith traditions and belief systems.
We are compelled to make this request because in past years the National Day of Prayer was taken over by a group of religious exclusivists led by Shirley Dobson of Focus on the Family. In past years Mrs. Dobson’s group, The National Day of Prayer Task Force has represented itself in a way that led many to believe that they were the government sanctioned National Day of Prayer organizers. In fact, they clearly represent only certain evangelical Christians. While they have taken some steps this year to clarify their role, the casual visitor to their website would still assume that it is the official website of the National Day of Prayer.
We urge you to again issue a single proclamation for the day that calls for an Inclusive National Day of Prayer and Reflection that restores and reflects our nation’s best values by explicitly inviting clergy from diverse faith traditions to participate equally and fully – especially in events held on government property.
With gratitude for the sensitivity and inclusiveness of your proclamation last year,
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy,
President, Interfaith Alliance
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak,
Co-Director-Jews On First
Co-Director-Jews On First
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 www.interfaithalliance.org.