President Joe Biden, who identifies as a devout Catholic, issued on Wednesday the annual proclamation of a National Day of Prayer, without mentioning any deity.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the U.S. Congress, when people are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation." The president is required by law (36 U.S.C. § 119) to sign a proclamation each year, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
The May 5 statement says that "throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance. Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements - including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans."
"Today, we remember and celebrate the role that the healing balm of prayer can play in our lives and in the life of our Nation," the Biden's proclamation reads. "As we continue to confront the crises and challenges of our time - from a deadly pandemic, to the loss of lives and livelihoods in its wake, to a reckoning on racial justice, to the existential threat of climate change - Americans of faith can call upon the power of prayer to provide hope and uplift us for the work ahead."
Additionally, the president attributed the creation of "a Nation of remarkable religious vitality and diversity across the generations" to "the right of all Americans to pray" guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It did not take long for many Americans to realize that Biden's message, actually, did not include the word "God." Neither "Jesus" nor "Bible" was mentioned. The most explicit remark Biden seemed to make related to God was, "Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet." It remained unclear how this communicates with our unique beliefs as a Christian nation, because even pagan religions believe humans have a connection to the divine, including those who sustain this connection with animal and human sacrifices.
Biden included a quote from the late Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), but couldn't even bother referencing a Bible verse or Old or New Testament figures.
Historically, every proclamation since 1953 - the first year proclamations were required under law - had included "God" until this year. Most proclamations mentioned "God" multiple times.
Reverend Franklin Graham was shocked by Biden skipping the word "God." "Of course we need to call on God - and not just some generic ‘gods' or some ‘power' in the air - but on God himself, the Creator who made and created this Earth and who sent his Son, Jesus Christ from Heaven to this Earth to save mankind from sin by dying on a cross." "There is no one else to pray to except to God," he added.
Conservative radio host Todd Starnes, author of God Less America, also weighed in on Biden's omission. "Regarding Biden's godless National Day of Prayer proclamation: The problem with the Democrats is that they don't believe that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights," he wrote on Twitter. "They believe we are endowed by the government."
Christian Broadcasting Network's Senior Political Analyst David Brody rebuked the speech, tweeting: "Joe Biden's National Day of Prayer Proclamation has been released and it doesn't even mention God once! How do you release a proclamation about prayer and not mention God at all? Of course it mentions climate change & racial justice. Truly, this is pathetic...and not surprising!"
In addition to Biden's literally godless proclamation, an evangelical Christian group was denied use of the U.S. Capitol for prayer service for the first time in decades.
According to Christian Headlines, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, was refused to host this year's National Day of Prayer at the Capitol building. Following the refusal of a traditional request, Reverend Mahoney tweeted: "After our permit was denied, for the first time in 70 years, there will be NO PUBLIC witness at the U.S. Capitol Building for the National Day Of Prayer! Brothers and sisters, free speech is in danger today in America."
People of faith believe that there is a blessing and a great power that flows to those who pray. In our impotent humanity, we are blessed to be able to reach upward to God and know that He hears us. But anyone who prays needs to address the One he prays to, as described in John 14:13-14. Prayer requires addressing God directly, not only through the faith of Christianity, which arguably serves as the spiritual foundation of America, but in other major religions practiced among her citizens, such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Why wouldn't Biden "say His name?"
Veronika Kyrylenko, Ph.D. is a research associate at GeoStrategic Analysis (Arlington, Va.) and a freelance writer whose work has appeared at the Western Journal, American Thinker, The Hill and other publications. She can be found at @KyrylenkoN on Parler.