May 6, 2021

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

Interfaith Group Calls National Day of Prayer “Problematic” for Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON — Though President Biden’s proclamation on the National Day of Prayer included moments of inclusivity for people of all faiths, proponents of true religious freedom should be wary of the congressionally-mandated proclamation’s very existence, say interfaith advocates. 

Interfaith Alliance, the only national interfaith organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of both religion and democracy in America, criticized the annual proclamation as a violation of church-state separation.

“This National Day of Prayer, President Biden celebrated faith and prayer as a source of strength, hope and guidance for many Americans,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance. “We appreciate the president’s nod to people of all faiths and beliefs, but true religious freedom does not just protect the right to pray, it protects our right not to pray. It prevents the government from favoring religion over non-religion or dictating if, when or how we worship.”

Established by President Harry Truman in 1952, the National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance, mandated by Congress, that intends to bring together Americans of every religion to express their faith in whatever way is appropriate for them.

But for many years now, Religious Right activists have claimed this observance to propagate the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Private religious groups like the self-proclaimed National Day of Prayer Task Force organize events which are restricted to only fundamentalist evangelical Christians. These events often involve elected officials and have taken place at government buildings such as courthouses and state capitols.

In years past, Interfaith Alliance has raised similar concerns on the National Day of Prayer, and its implications for religious freedom, and Americans who do not include prayer in their belief system. This year, Interfaith Alliance took to state capitols, calling for governors to proclaim an Inclusive National Day of Prayer and Meditation that recognizes the diversity of beliefs in our country and invites representatives of diverse faith traditions to participate equally and fully – especially in events that take place on government property.

“Americans of every religion are free to express their faith in whatever way is appropriate for them. But the National Day of Prayer inserts the government into religious practice in a way contrary to our constitutional values,” continued Rabbi Moline. “We cannot observe the National Day of Prayer without acknowledging its problematic nature. For both faith and freedom to flourish in this country, the government must not weigh in on matters of faith but be guided by the constitutional principles which restrict it from doing so.

If you are interested in speaking further with Interfaith Alliance on this issue, please contact Manisha Sunil at (202) 417-0171 or


Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit