Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Perhaps you know this. Perhaps you don't. But today is the National Day of Prayer.

Fifty–eight years ago, a bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Truman calling for an annual observance of a day of prayer, but the date remained flexible. The law only required all future presidents to declare a national prayer day. It wasn't until more than three decades later that the first Thursday in May was designated.

Well, today is the first Thursday in May (which, coincidentally, is also the 73rd anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster). And, thanks to a district court ruling that is currently under appeal, this could be the last National Day of Prayer.

But the National Day of Prayer is not a thing of the past yet (which actually reminds me of the arguments over organized school prayer many years ago — some of you may recall that opponents of school prayer insisted that, as long as tests were given, there would always be prayer in school so organized prayer wasn't necessary. I don't remember how old I was when I first heard that, but it struck me as hilarious because I knew what kinds of grades some of my friends had been getting).

And, even if the time comes when a National Day of Prayer is no longer observed, there will still be things for which people of faith can pray on their own and not just on a designated day, either (the way some people apparently withhold their expressions of gratitude for whatever blessings they believe have been bestowed on their lives by a higher power until Thanksgiving), but all the time.

Tolerance, for example.

This nation has always been somewhat short in the tolerance department. But it never seems to run out of groups of people of whom to be intolerant.

For a long time, the whole nation was intolerant of blacks. The South was the most grievous offender, but the whole country shared the guilt.

And through much of its history — and even, in some ways, yet today — America has been intolerant of women.

Well, the country is more tolerant of those groups now. But, for a nation that has always prided itself on tolerance of religious freedom, Islamic citizens, especially in the post–9/11 world, have enjoyed about as much tolerance in America as Japanese–Americans enjoyed in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

And, in Arizona, Hispanics, legal or illegal, must be feeling — as some of the older folks in my Arkansas hometown used to say — about as welcome as a skunk at a picnic.

With a massive oil spill lapping against our shores and car bombs being parked in Times Square — as well as an unemployment problem that is going to take a long time to resolve, even if we did add jobs to the economy last month and even if we do the same when tomorrow's jobs report comes out — every day should be a day of prayer for this nation.

Officially or unofficially.

1 comment:

askcherlock said...

Such excellent insights to the horrific character our nation has evolved. What is next? Perhaps arm-bands or numbers tattooed on us. I dread where this country is going morally, let alone financially.