“Because of the faith of our founding fathers, public prayer and national days of prayer had a significant history in American tradition and are a vital part of our heritage.”The article goes on to detail the history of national prayer in the United States back to 1775. This idea that our nation was founded by Christians believers with an intent on creating a Christian nation is totally false. It is well known that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and a chief architect of the creation of our constitution was more than skeptical of Christianity.
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" - Jefferson in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816One incident of a national day of prayer, mentioned in the TGI article, came in 1944 when American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and President Franklin Roosevelt called on the nation to unite in prayer. Guess God was on our side back then. But would Americans think it appropriate for foreign leaders (of say Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran) to hold a Muslim National Day of Prayer that called on God to defeat America. It was not until 1952 that there was an act of Congress to make the first Thursday in May the National Prayer Day. Why then? Because we were fighting "godless Communism" and leaders, like Wisconsin senator Joe McCarthy, were claiming anyone who wasn't a right wing Christian was a "pinko" sympathizer and a traitor. Because of the McCarthy Era paranoia the phrase "one nation under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance in June of 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress. God was never mentioned in our allegiance to America before then. The facts are that most of the founding fathers were not Christians but Deists.
"Which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity." - (http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html)This does not fit neatly with the beliefs of the fastest growing segment of Christianity today, modern evangelical fundamentalists. These are the believers in the literal word of the Bible and those that embrace the Rapture. They have taken over the football locker rooms of America and their mega-churches have a pretty good grip on the crumbling suburbs of the nation. Image above: A interdenominational prayer meeting in Poipu at home of Dr. Monroe Richman. From TGI article (http://thegardenisland.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/religion/article_31ffa8b4-59af-11df-91ef-001cc4c03286.html). At yesterday's prayer event where was the participation of Druids, Jews, Shintoists, Confusians, Hinduists, Buddhists, Unitarians and other major world spiritual paths? Answer: In Poipu. It was heartening to see that a more universal interpretation of what ecumenical means is understood by some people on Kauai. The Garden Island reported that almost as many people attended an alternative prayer event.
"An interdenominational day of prayer at a Poipu home that was announced only through word of mouth nearly outdrew the Christian National Day of Prayer event at the Lihue Civic Center Moikeha Building on Thursday. Dr. Monroe Richman, who is Jewish, was miffed when he was apparently told he could not speak at the Christian National Day of Prayer event in Lihu‘e, so instead hosted his own interdenominational gathering at his Po‘ipu home... many faiths, including Buddhist, Jewish as well as secular humanists, pantheists, and atheists were invited"- (http://thegardenisland.com/article_206e6a86-59af-11df-95ff-001cc4c03286.html)It is troubling to see the conjoining of American patriotism and Christian zeal. It is not dissimilar to the joining of nationhood and religion in Israel and in many Islamic nations, and it is a formula for cataclysmic differences. The Founding Fathers had it right. Don't mix religion and government. I believe it is vital that an internal spiritual life is manifest in an individual's actions. But, religion has no monopoly on that. It is something just between you and the universe. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Duke Aiona's Christian Hawaii 4/7/10 .