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Obama ends Bush-era National Prayer Day service at White House

President Bush at National Prayer Day service For years, it's been a staple of the White House calendar.

On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (This event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held outside the White House gates every year on the first Thursday of February.)

President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year.

"Prayer is something that the president does every day," explained White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. "I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family's life, the role that prayer plays."

President Truman signed the first National Prayer Day proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion. Under Bush, the day was a political event, confirming a conviction that religion was a core tenet of Republican politics.

Naturally, prominent evangelicals, including National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, and her husband, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, expressed disappointment in Obama's decision.

"At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," Shirley Dobson said in a statement.

But Obama has shown an unusual sensitivity toward atheists, the first president to mention non-believers in an inaugural address when he said, "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers."

Non-believers took heart at Obama's decision but urged him to go further.

"It's not his job to tell people to pray," David Silverman, national spokesman for the organization American Atheists, told CNN.  "We are very happy he did away with the George W. Bush-era celebrations and party, but we wish he wouldn't do it at all."

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: Getty Images

 
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Our nation was born out of ugly centuries of war with difference of religion used as the excuse for persecution, genocide, and terror. Separation of church and state is what set us apart and offered hope for a new world; hope that was not to be had by religious means that offered sectarianism and violence. It is often the same today whether it is Allah, Jesus or Oil that is "worshiped." It still comes down to power and oligarchy, war and terror. Why fear openly proclaiming ourselves a secular, constitutional democracy? Our founding fathers did it and brought light into the world.

Thank, God.

Someone knows both the constitution and scripture, and respects God.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
7
3 4 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
8
Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "

Jesus said that.

"Thanks, President Obama, for understanding what he said. May he guide you always."

I said that.

It is a very sad day in America when our Nation's President refuses to lead us in a very much needed "Day of Prayer". It's too bad. Frankly, with the way things are going, Obama could use as many prayers as he can get. What's next? The National Day of "non-believers"?

Thank, God.

Someone knows both the constitution and scripture, and respects God.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
7
3 4 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
8
Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "

Jesus said that.

"Thanks, President Obama, for understanding what he said. May he guide you always."

I said that.

It is not wise or sensible to pray with bitter and angry people such as Limbaugh and Dobson. Why pray with someone who constantly proclaims they want you to fail, or describe you in the worst of terms other than a child of God? Maybe it is the wisdom of Moses who refused to pray for Pharoh in his presence or in the city, that President Obama has gotten insight from. Limbaugh and Dobson should search the Scriptures and learn that such wisdom and insight is hidden from the proud, arrogant, bitter, hateful and angry.

Matthew 6:5-6: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

It was the right thing to do. No one wants to restrict the President's beliefs, but using religion for political gain has gone on for too long in this country.

Matthew 6:5-6

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I guess Barack was disappointed that Rev J. Wright was not heading up the National Day of Prayer Breakfast..
Its a sad day for America.. on more slide down the slippery slope to the abyss.... I'm personally disappointed in our president..what next?

My heart breaks for what God must be feeling.
This Country needs prayer more than ever. What the President has done is a disgrace. I just can't believe it.

What god does he pray to? an alter to himself?

Obama get down to the prayer breakfast ASAP!!!!

Everyone is having trouble fixing the economy, health, and other disasters. What we forget is that only if we quit beleiving in men but in GOD and humble ourselves and submit to HIM, then he will change the course of what we have done to ourselves. Obama cannot fix this, he is a man-human just like all of us and makes mistakes as well. Only JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth may fix it. It is not going to get any better, only worse.

President Obama did the wrong thing to stop the national day of prayer service at the White House. If we are going to be a strong nation we need to cling to God

Michell Obama's Beliefs?
Barack Obama claims to have not heard Rev. Wright say hurtful thing during his 20 year attendance at the mans church. Well, if he was sleeping through the loud sermons, what the heck was his wife doing. Surely she, an attorney by trade, should have been paying attention!
She should have warned her husband to greatly distance himself from this hateful individual. That is unless of course she agrees with Mr. Wrights statements. Given her comments on her lack of pride in the US until recently, her attendance at this particular church and her comments on 60 minutes that allege someone (presumably a white person) could shoot her husband at the gas station on any given day, gets me to wondering as to her agreement with Rev. Wrights sermons.

Thanks for being the ONLY national publication to "mention" this breaking news! I wish that our president didn't compromise where God is concerned. Hands down, he's the nicest--even the coolest president whose made the biggest mistake of them all. Alas, everything that glitters sure isn't gold. Sin if you want, invade another country just because, pad a few pockets, but never ever never, eliminate GOD from the equation! Why? God can fix sin, home invasion and financial corruption and any other mess you find yourself in....without God, you and I are nothing..
Truth be told, if Pres-O was praying AND getting a response, he'd know NOT to do away w/public recognition of National Day of Prayer. Think about it, you believe in God but you compromise with an atheist on a National Day of Prayer ceremony? They weren't coming to the party anyways so it wouldn't matter if you held it or not!

Lord Help Us All !!!!!!

To anyone using Matthew 6:5-6 to support the president’s actions, please read the entire chapter as it was directed to hypocritical form of individual prayer, which is different from a nation’s leader recognizing a national day of collective or corporate prayer by holding a prayer ceremony for believers. Clearly, a misappropriation of the Scripture as this verse has everything to do with motive and would counter corporate prayer such as See You at the Pole or even when pastors pray for and/or with their congregation. This same Jesus who warned a specific people not to hold hypocritical individual prayers for the sake of being “seen of men” prayed openly for people to be healed for example as well as in private to God about God’s will.
God honors leaders who acknowledge His office within their office through prayer—corporate and individual. Solomon is an example of a king (national leader aka, president) who sought the Lord in public and established a place of worship for God: 2 Chronicles 7. God honored Governor Sonny Perdue’s called prayer during a drought two years ago. It's been raining ever since!

Prayer? Obama has no time for prayer. He's too busy taking from some people and giving what he takes to others.

"Where there is NO "VISION", the people will perish."
He is leading this nation and the people down a slippery slope. All this is just the beginning.

Well said Ed.

Prayer was taken out of our schools. Now, many schools have become a war zone with students fighting teachers, usings drugs, refusing to show respect for anyone and shooting and killing other students. Their learning is low their dropout is high. I think we all need prayer. Obama should have led this country in prayer for a better economy and a more peaceful world.

I pray that we pray anyway we want to and when and where we do it is good and right and to hell with obama and his stupid ideas.

Jesus does tell us to be humble when we pray, but he also asks us to recognize him for who he was/is and is to come. HE is the King of this nation, not Obama. If Obama had a relationship with the Lord he would have know this. I'm not meaning to disrespect any of you, or Obama, but it's the truth.

Yes, It probably would have been good for Obama to continue have the prayer breakfast at the White House, but it is his choice. He did not do away with the National Day of Prayer, he just didn't do it the way George Bush did it. I am very concerned about the anger that a lot of christians are displaying. We christians need to do more praying and stop bickering about when and where the president prays. Basically you would rather have a president who looked christian than one who is christian. You can't judge a book by it's cover. He has clearly prayed openely manay times so to act like he is against the nation praying is ridiculus.

I am among those who believe that Matthew 6:5-6 supports the president’s actions, precisely because it was directed to hypocritical public prayer, which is an apt description of the political motivations now driving National Prayer Day. That President Obama refuses to be used by James Dobson and other evangelicals determined to break down the walls between church and state speaks well of his judgement and moral integrity.
In light of their own moral shortcomings, "hypocrite" seems to be exactly the right descriptive term for those on the right who are so anxious to throw stones.

It is sad that he will not participate in a national day of prayer but instead host an islamic prayer group on the lawn on sept 25. The Beast has arisen. The end is near. check it out www.islamoncapitalhill.com

We are one nation under God, prayer is one of the most inportant part of that foundation . William Penn wrote"If thou wouldest rule well thou must rule for God, and to do that thou must be ruled by Him, those who will not be governed by Him will be ruled by Tyrants. This is a day of public and private prayer like never befor if we want to remain free on Nation Under God
paulette

I read a preacher's sermon yesterday that equates President Obama to a Biblical character, Pharoah, the Egyptian King that promised to take care of the children of Israel and made them nothing but slaves. Sounds like a modern day version of what is happening today in the United States. We need to take a stand as Christians, and get our country back on track instead of being so worried that we might offend someone of another religious back ground. It's the Christians that are losing rights all in the name of so-called diversity.

I believe this is a very poor decision. The United States of America was founded upon biblical values or one might say, christian principles. Prayer is a christian principle; now the president wants to change the total direction of our nation because he doesn't think that prayer is important. Since when did our government make decisions based on their personal beliefs and not on what the citizens of the U.S. want. Prayer is and always has been a foundation of this nation.

BIG MISTAKE! God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.Our nation needs lots of prayer!

I voted for Pres. Obama ,like most of his ideas at this point. know we live in a diverse country in 2009, however I do not believe the christians should do all the letting go in order not to offend. because we are being offended each and every day. I do not think a prayer service shuld be held of the muslim faith in a house owned by the american peole not the current sitting Pres. thanks.

What do they mean "Bush-era"? Shouldn't it say "Truman-era"???

What's that saying, If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
If he stands for "everyone's beliefs", what does "he" stand for?
His Christian faith is debatable by his actions.
He says he's not an atheist, or a Muslim, a Jew or a Hindu. SO what is he??
Its separation of church and state so that the state cannot interfere in anyone's church. However, your church should be a part of you and should affect your decisions and actions.
If a Muslim, or Hindu, or Atheist was president, it would be consistent for them to not have the Nat Day of Prayer to a God they don't believe in.
But for a Christian (so he says) to snub the day is to snub his own beliefs.
Best take a close look at the path he has the US on, take a look a few years down the road, see if you like where he's taking you.

While I voted for Obama, it saddens me that he did not acknowledge the "Day of Prayer". As I excited about the "change" that may come a new president, I was very hurt by our nations leader. If the president says he prays each day, that is wonderful but as the nation prays for him and his family it has taken away the confidence I had when I placed my vote, but as a christian I will continue to pray for him and ask that this day be a day of uniting, dedication to all citizens believers and non-believers, I will pray for you as well.

I am totally dissapointed in President Obama. To stop honoring the national day of prayer is like saying God we don't need you or want you in this country. To President Obama and those who agreed with him, I'll be praying for you. For those who use the Bible to critizise those who practice the Natinal day of prayer, but yet they want nothing to do with the Bible or with God, How dare you? You have no clue what is the meaning of those scriptures. You need to go further and study the Bible and history before taking one text or two and using it to attack others or rationalized your unbeliefs.

President Obama did not cancel the day of prayer, he merely chose not to observe it in the same way as George W. Bush. Religion shouldn't have a hold on the government anyway. We are not all Christian in this country and one doesn't have to be Christian to be moral and decent. Religion is a personal thing. Prayer is also a personal thing. The right wing radical fundamentalists have tried to gain control of this country for over twenty years and they have succeeded in many of their endeavors. I don't want them speaking for me or laying their judgements on our society any more than I would want any other religious faction. I think that the religious right is just wrong. After all, didn't Jesus say something about judging others?

Remember those people who cling to their religion and guns ?Obama's latest
move is just another manifestattion of his elitist's disdain for regular god fearing Americans and their values.Hey, the liberal,atheist and the LGBT
constituencys are very precious to this administration.

Obama is a disgrace to this nation. I have been mortified at his suave lies and poor decisions, but this event just confirms that he is a better liar than i ever thought of him.

I thought the national day of prayer was an interfaith gathering. I see it as recognition of our religous diversity and recognition of our freedom of religion. Why a Muslim day of prayer in Sept of 09 and no national day of prayer that has been going on for 21 years?

The first message of this discussion is so wrong. Our nation was born from the first inmigrants, those who came in the Mainflower. Based on pilgrim beliefs, the "Mayflower Compact" was the first stone placed before constructing our nation, and this is what it said:

"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620."

That is the foundation, upon which this nation was built. God is all around this nation like it or not, including the 50 Constitutions of every state, and our dollar bills.

This is a sad day. And this is the last straw. I can no longer be an Obama supporter.

You know there is a BIG differance between praying in front of people for show and praying in front of people to unite them! When Jesus said those things I believe he was directing them at those who do it for appearances!

Our country is here because of people coming over here to Worship God and avoid persecution.

Now more than ever our country needs this. We need to be united by something to give us some belief that not all is lost!!!!

It's just politics though. He's just trying to gain light in the eyes of those that don't believe. Not to mention, I don't think he practices Christianity himself. (muslim, or something??)

Well it does look like the end times are coming quickly, This is so wrong. You can see that Obama is a christian hater, what is his next plan, to shut down churches and then put us christians in prison for believeing in God? Thats what it looks like to me. This is got to stop, we can't have a president that makes us slaves to the goverment and his rules.

RIP USA.

In spite of the beliefs of some of the commentators to this article, this nation was founded with an appreciation of "Providence," which did NOT mean mere "luck," but rather the Divine Hand that led us.

What we now call "separation of church and state" was never in *our* Constitution, but *did* appear in Section 53 of the Constitution of the USSR.

This announcement shows that this nation is dead.

It is not the state's resp0nsibility to pray. Furthermore, scientific studies have shown prayer does not work anyway. If people want to pray together, then go to your house of worship and pray to your god (Allah, Jehovah, Odin, Thor, or Zeus). Just keep it out of the government's duties!

So,Obama prays everyday. Who is he praying to, if he is so anti-christian? God help him! I would hope he never has a crisis, Mohammed is dead and cannot hear his prayer. Jesus is alive and well sitting at the right hand of Father God interceding for us.

Why are you all so angry? If you guys slam Obama for whatever his religion, then you do not live in the USA. I thought Freedom Of Religion was accepted? Perhaps there should be an asterisk after that amendment noting that no one is accepted unless they are christian. You guys are a joke. Two working hands are better than a 1000 praying hands. That's a fact.

My heart breaks that the president would stop something so badly needed. Dont we, the people that believe in God matter anymore? Where were these non-believers when the President was holding Muslim national prayer day? What makes it ok for some to pray but not others? We should be able to practice our freedom of speech, and religion. And if our believeing in God is so disturbing to these non believers, stay home and dont listen. Or use the power you have for good like.. fighting hunger or violence, but oh wait that is the Christians that do that not the atheists. But believeing is wrong.

FOR THOSE WHO FORGET, OUR NATION WAS FOUNDED ON THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY, OUR LAWS WERE ESTABLISHED WITH BIBLICAL BELIEFS AND FOR THAT REASON ALONE, THIS COUNTRY WAS BLESSED BEYOND ALL OTHERS....FOR A WHILE.

THE WHITE HOUSE IS THE BUILDING THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES LOOK TO AS THE HEAD OF OUR COUNTRY. SO WHEN A SITTING PRESIDENT DECIDES TO CANCEL A DAY THAT WAS ENACTED BY A FORMER PRESIDENT, HE TAKES ON A LOT OF CRITICISM FOR THOSE WHO PUT HIM IN THAT OFFICE.

DIDN'T PRESIDENT OBAMA IMPLY THAT HE WAS A MAN WHO HELD PRAYER IMPORTANT WHEN HE WAS ELECTED? DIDN'T HE LET THE COUNTRY BELIEVE THAT HE PRAYED TO THE CHRISTIAN GOD WHILE HE WAS RUNNING FOR THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND? DIDN'T HE TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE WITH HIS HAND ON A BIBLE?

THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER BEING HONORED AT THE WHITE HOUSE SENDS A MESSAGE. TO CANCEL IT, SENDS ANOTHER. WE'RE WONDERING HOW GOD IS GOING TO RECEIVE THIS MESSAGE.

MAY THE GOD WHO SPOKE THE UNIVERSE INTO EXISTANCE, AND WHO HOLDS THIS COUNTRY IN HIS HAND, HAVE MERCY ON IT.

Lol @David Silverman, American Atheist spokesperson.
Silvermans statementS in review: The president should not be telling people to believe in God, and he should not pray or believe in God either.

Christians (not that Obama is Christian) should not force their religion on others, but it is ok for David Silverman to expect others to follow atheism.

A confusing circle, much like the atheist's thought process in general.

Bush era? President Harry Truman statred the tradition.

President Obama did the right thing by stopping the "National Prayer Day"....

He knew that most of the Nation would pray he gets impeached.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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