By Wes Walker
It is customary for the POTUS to set aside a “National Day of Prayer.” Even aggressive secularists aren’t ready to dump that and lose votes. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.
Through the “soul of the nation” rhetoric of the last election cycle, to the religious posturing of Joe Biden, to the oversized Bible on Inauguration Day, to the press tripping over him as the best kind of religious president America could possibly want, much was made of what a man of profound faith Joe Biden is.
He is, after all, the guy who once gave us those immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women are created, by the, you know, you know the thing.”
Deep and devout in his religious devotion. None can possibly question it, we’re told.
But if the words of Jesus in that thick Bible he used as a prop on Inauguration Day are true — and what good, God-fearing Catholic would say otherwise — then we must believe the words one uses are evidence of a person’s heart. In the old-timey language he would have grown up with, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45-46)
That must also mean that what is omitted carries weight as well — especially when the thing is omitted from a place one might expect to see it.
Here’s Biden’s official Proclamation that May 6th is to be the National Day of Prayer. Can you spot what is missing?
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. Prayer is also a daily practice for many, whether it is to ask for help or strength, or to give thanks over blessings bestowed.
The First Amendment to our Constitution protects the rights of free speech and religious liberty, including the right of all Americans to pray. These freedoms have helped us to create and sustain a Nation of remarkable religious vitality and diversity across the generations.
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. 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. As the late Congressman John Lewis once said, ‘Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.’
On this National Day of Prayer, we unite with purpose and resolve, and recommit ourselves to the core freedoms that helped define and guide our Nation from its earliest days. We celebrate our incredible good fortune that, as Americans, we can exercise our convictions freely — no matter our faith or beliefs. Let us find in our prayers, however they are delivered, the determination to overcome adversity, rise above our differences, and come together as one Nation to meet this moment in history.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a ‘National Day of Prayer.’
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2021, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in prayers for spiritual guidance, mercy, and protection.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
This supposedly “devout Catholic” has endless references to prayer in the abstract, but no direct references to whose help those prayers call upon.
You might expect such a “devout” Catholic would know that God is explicitly hostile to those who would use Him (and, by extension, prayer) as nothing more than a means to an end. Few things are less true to America’s founding than the reduction of God to an abstraction.
Hear the words of warning given by the prophet Malachi.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”
Mr. Piety here seems to be coming up empty in the ways that Jesus would say mattered. Contrast to the media’s personification of evil, Mr. OrangeManBad himself?
Last year, Trump gave a very different Proclamation, one that put God Himself, not the human act of prayer, at center stage in every paragraph.
Ask yourself, if the Founders, the Framers, or some of the great presidents of history were to read them, which of these would have seemed appropriate for the Office of the President?
On this National Day of Prayer, Americans reaffirm that prayer guides and strengthens our Nation, and we express, with humility and gratitude, our ‘firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.’ As one Nation under God, we share a legacy of faith that sustains and inspires us and a heritage of religious liberty. Today, we join together and lift up our hearts, remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’
From our earliest days, our dependence upon God has brought us to seek His divine counsel and unfailing wisdom. Our leaders have often encouraged their fellow citizens to seek wisdom from God and have recognized God’s power to lead our Nation ahead to brighter days. When the prospects for our independence seemed bleak, General George Washington proclaimed a national day of ‘fasting, humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God.’ Following the devastating destruction of the Civil War, President Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address and invoked the power of prayer to ‘bind up the nation’s wounds.’ And more than 100 years later, President Reagan noted our long reliance on prayer throughout our history, writing that ‘through the storms of revolution, Civil War, and the great world wars as well as during times of disillusionment and disarray, the Nation has turned to God in prayer for deliverance.’
Today, as much as ever, our prayerful tradition continues as our Nation combats the coronavirus. During the past weeks and months, our heads have bowed at places outside of our typical houses of worship, whispering in silent solitude for God to renew our spirit and carry us through unforeseen and seemingly unbearable hardships. Even though we have been unable to gather together in fellowship with our church families, we are still connected through prayer and the calming reassurance that God will lead us through life’s many valleys. In the midst of these trying and unprecedented times, we are reminded that just as those before us turned to God in their darkest hours, so must we seek His wisdom, strength, and healing hand. We pray that He comforts those who have lost loved ones, heals those who are sick, strengthens those on the front lines, and reassures all Americans that through trust in Him, we can overcome all obstacles.
May we never forget that prayer guides and empowers our Nation and that all things are possible with God. In times of prosperity, strife, peace, and war, Americans lean on His infinite love, grace, and understanding. Today, on this National Day of Prayer, let us come together and pray to the Almighty that through overcoming this coronavirus pandemic, we develop even greater faith in His divine providence.
In 1988, the Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer, ‘on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.’
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2020, as a National Day of Prayer. I encourage all Americans to observe this day, reflecting on the blessings our Nation has received and the importance of prayer, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities in their houses of worship, communities, and places of work, schools, and homes consistent with the White House’s ‘Guidelines for Opening up America Again.’
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.
DONALD J. TRUMP
Cross-posted at ClashDaily