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Religious Right Watch

National Day of Prayer Task Force

Read the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund's 2005 report:

THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER TASK FORCE:
Turning a Day of Faith into a Rally for the Christian Right


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.

Although the NDP Task force has no recognized standing with any governmental body, its Web site bills itself as the “official” Web site of the National Day of Prayer. Further, the group’s extensive organizing efforts at the federal, state and local level have established it as the de facto national sponsor. This is evidenced by widespread endorsement in the media and, more alarmingly, by state and local governments.

In 2005, twenty-six state proclamations more than half of all issued adopted the NDP Task Force’s theme (“God Shed His Grace on Thee”), many of them using language taken directly from the NDP Task Force Web site. Texas’ proclamation, for instance, anoints the NDP Task Force’s official theme and cites the New Testament text (Hebrews 4:16) selected by the Task Force as the official scripture for the 2005 National Day of Prayer.

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.

Read a briefing paper about the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Read the full report.