Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious-right legal attack squad, today accused an atheist/agnostic group of threatening the National Day of Prayer.
But Focus on the Family had already eviscerated the event years ago, leaving little to threaten besides a sectarian evangelical organization that uses the event’s federal status to pray and politicize against Jews, Muslims, liberal Christians, and other American religious and non-religious traditions.
In 1952, Congress created the National Day of Prayer as an interfaith commemoration of prayer. Decades later, Focus on the Family destroyed the ecumenism of the Day when James and Shirley Dobson commandeered the event’s organizing task force. Now the task force’s website says:
Americans of all faiths are encouraged to participate in the [National Day of Prayer] according to their own traditions. However, the [National Day of Prayer] Task Force provides promotional materials and sponsors several events in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition
In order to join the task force, one must now sign a statement affirming Biblical inerrancy and “commit that NDP activities I serve with will be conducted solely by Christians.”
The commandeered National Day of Prayer now enforces sectarian religious observances in opposition to the wishes of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson — and in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
On several occasions, Focus on the Family has used its control of the National Day of Prayer to attack family values and freedom of religion.
Jews on First and the Council of American Islamic Relations, among other faith organizations, maintain that the National Day of Prayer Task Force improperly turned the event into a judgmental and exclusive evangelical political sermon.
Religion plays an important role not just in individual lives, but in our society; that role is worthy of impartial recognition. Many religious people say they long for the day when Americans can join peacefully in honoring prayer. Such people have but one organization to blame for the loss of such an event:
Focus on the Family.