Talk:National Day of Prayer

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The actual holiday[edit]

This article seems too focused on the legal and history aspects of the holiday, and not on the actual content of the holiday. I think it needs to go more in detail on what the holiday actually celebrates. The date of observance wasn't even in the first paragraph, so I edited in the date ("first Thursday of May"). However, can someone research more deeply on what this holiday is about and add a section describing it in detail? (talk) 01:34, 6 May 2010 (UTC)


This paragraph is superfluous: "Despite this attempt at inclusivity, however, the day still makes no provision for atheists, agnostics, and all others who do not practice prayer." Yeah, well, it's a day of prayer. Obviously people who don't pray aren't included, and I say this as an atheist who doesn't pray.

I removed it and was accused of vandalism, which is nonsense. Is Wikipedia in general this hostile to editing? 13:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

mm . . . fair point. Sorry about accusing you of vandalism . . . there were a series of other edits around the same time which were removing the External Links, which I saw no reason for. I overreacted a little. Ldnew 21:58, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Atheists, Agnostics, Dissenters, and Secularism[edit]

In response to the first paragraph of this page:

This paragraph is superfluous: "Despite this attempt at inclusivity, however, the day still makes no provision for atheists, agnostics, and all others who do not practice prayer." Yeah, well, it's a day of prayer. Obviously people who don't pray aren't included, and I say this as an atheist who doesn't pray.

You personally may be okay with it, but there is still an extremely legitimate argument that the existance of a National Day of Prayer/Task Force violates the establishment and free exercise clauses. It is inclusive of all who pray, but excludes those who do not pray, are atheist, are agnostic, or simply protest government involvement in religion. Even if every person within the United States prayed, this would still be an establishment of religion. Wikipedia, however, is neutral, and must represent both viewpoints in this article. I will, however, allow for responses before changing it to that effect.DougOfDoom talk 20:46, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Please do go ahead and make this article more neutral. One thing seems to be a bit unclear here. Although a National Day of Prayer is recognized by the government, the "National Day of Prayer Task Force" is not. They are an independent, non-profit, and are tied to some very conservative religious/political organizations. I think this distinction needs to be made more clearly. -MrFizyx 14:59, 11 July 2006 (UTC)


The independence of the "task force" should probably be made clearer. The language of the second mention leaves the reader thinking that it was formed due to governmental action (and it's just badly written in general, e.g. passive phrasing): "On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law. It was in 1972 that the National Prayer Committee was formed. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force..."

The web site appears to be run by Focus on the Family, suggesting that they also run the "task force":

Created On:18-Mar-1999 05:00:00 UTC
Last Updated On:06-Feb-2007 16:25:43 UTC
Expiration Date:18-Mar-2009 05:00:00 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Network Solutions LLC (R63-LROR)
Registrant ID:30779942-NSI
Registrant Name:NationalPrayerCommittee, Inc.
Registrant Organization:NationalPrayerCommittee, Inc.
Registrant Street1:P.O. Box 15616
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Colorado Springs
Registrant State/Province:CO
Registrant Postal Code:80935-5616
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.71953134
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:domainnames@FOTF.ORG
Admin ID:30779943-NSI
Admin Name:Legal Affairs
Admin Organization:Focus on the Family
Admin Street1:8605 Explorer Drive
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Colorado Springs
Admin State/Province:CO

--Woozle (talk) 23:05, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Major Edits[edit]

the claims that this is an exclusivly christian holiday are contradicted throuout the article. the holidays category is not intended for specific holidays. The weblink was dead so i removed it. the order of information was not appropriately sectioned. and wikipedia should not link to applications. the date of the formation of the prayer committee was inaccurate so i changed that. I also more accurately described the history of the holiday. (talk) 23:09, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

The claim that my edits are not constructive are unfounded. I cite my reasons for each change. and they are all reasonable. The holiday is not a christian holiday it is a holiday intended for people of all faith, if you look 10 days ago in the history you will see that was the original description. (talk) 23:30, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, but it is a Christian holiday, according to everything I have found. Reverted. - DiligentTerrier (and friends) 19:57, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Even the task force site, which is run by Christian evangelicals, describes the NDP in this way:The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation.
There is also quite a bunch of evidence to suggest that people of other faiths don't accept this interpretation and these POVs should be fairly represented, something your reversion fails to do. --Newsroom hierarchies (talk) 20:17, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Please note you've now made three reverts to this page in the past 24 hours. --Newsroom hierarchies (talk) 20:23, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Actually, it does say that but it also talks about calling people in the Christian faith, which tells me that when they say all faiths, they mean people within the divisions of the Christian faith. - DiligentTerrier (and friends) 20:30, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
i'm afraid that is completely illogical... (talk) 03:44, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps, but it may also be notable. The actions of the "Christian Right" are very hard to pin down. I think the only good Wikipedian solution is to treat the intent of the Day of Prayer as ambiguous, reducible only to a fair account of the various opinions of what it might be. (Collin237)

With regard to this sentence in your preferred version--The National Day of Prayer is a day designated by the United States Congress as a day when all Christians are asked to come together and pray, especially for their country--can you please provide evidence that Congress intended this to be an exclusively Christian observance? Perhaps that's not what the sentence is intended to say, but it sure sounds that way. --Newsroom hierarchies (talk) 18:10, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Having received no answer, I changed "Christians" to "people" (instead of "all U.S. citizens of faith"). --Newsroom hierarchies (talk) 23:29, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Text of the Actual Bills?[edit]

Does anyone know what the names of the actual bills signed by Truman and Reagan are, and where their text might be found? -- Prothonotar (talk) 17:49, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

The text of the 1952 bill may not be online. Online Senate and House records only go back to the 93rd Congress, 1973-74. The National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, provides about 1350 Federal Depository Libraries throughout the United States where executive and legislative documents not available online can be found; the text of the bill may be on microfilm there. Also, an archived New York Times article for Friday, April 18, 1952, is entitled Truman Signs Prayer Day Bill; other newspapers of that day may have the text.
The 1988 bill began life as S.1378. The title was "A bill to provide for setting aside the first Thursday in May as the date on which the National Day of Prayer is celebrated." It was sponsored by Senator Strom Thurmond [SC], with 18 cosponsors, and was introduced on 6/17/1987. The link shows the bill's progress through Congress; it became Public Law No 100-307 on 5/5/1988. Unfortunately, as the United States Code is available online only to 1994, this may again mean a visit to a Federal Depository Library for the text of the law.
A similar House bill, HR4170, introduced on 3/16/1988, did not make it out of committee. Hope that helps. DanB (talk) 07:39, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

To the gung-ho editors regarding the recent ruling[edit]

I see a handful of editors have eagerly jumped the gun in declaring the day null and void, particularly in the lede. The judge in the case stayed her own ruling (i.e. she "froze" it so that it does not take effect) until after appeals are exhausted. I realize that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue, but let us please endeavor to keep things NPOV. I have moved information about the ruling out of the lede per WP:UNDUE and added the information that Crabb stayed her ruling. Seregain (talk) 15:56, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree with your removal of the detailed text from the lede, but I believe the court challenge deserves a mention - it potentially affects the very existence of the law.
The article is a bit of a mess in general, so I'll see what I can do to improve it. AV3000 (talk) 12:25, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

The mention of the court case from FFRF in the lede is a bit misleading, Their first challenge was actually successful (the opposite of what the lede says), but the appeal then overturned it and it became unsuccesful. The rest of the article explains it btter, but the lede is inaccurate/misleading. Wikinarc (talk) 11:55, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Link to National Day of Prayer Task Force article[edit]

I recently added an article on the National Day of Prayer Task Force. To any who has the time, please review and make changes as you see fit.

I added a link to it, initially in the text of the article, but thought it would be good to also put it in the See Also section, as it was easy to miss the link buried in the text.

AV3000 removed the link from the See Also section, considering it to be redundant.

If there is only one link to the article, I think it would be more helpful to readers if it is in the See Also section, because it is more visible there.

Is there a style rule that says a link cannot be both in the article and in the See Also section? This seems odd to me.

Here is what I could find in Help:


  1. Think carefully before you remove a link altogether—what may seem like an irrelevant link to you may be useful to other readers.
  2. If you feel that a certain link does not belong in the body of the text, consider moving it to a "See also" section at the bottom of the article. (Remember that links can also be useful when applying the "What links here" feature from the target page.)

PeaceLoveHarmony (talk) 18:35, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

WP:SEEALSO: "Links already integrated into the body of the text are generally not repeated in a "See also" section" / "Indeed, a good article might not require a "See also" section at all." AV3000 (talk) 17:57, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

OK, thanks AV3000 for the info. What you quote here from WP:SEEALSO is obviously not a hard and fast rule, but rather a suggestion, with allowable exceptions. I notice that it says "generally not repeated", not "is never repeated".

In making a decision, the goal should be what is most helpful to the readers. Does an extra link in the See Also section just clutter things up with redundant info, or does it help the reader quickly explore the subject in more depth? I think the latter.

I think it is very important that readers understand that the National Day of Prayer and the National Day of Prayer Task Force are two different things. This is not always understood, and this confusion is at the heart of some of the current controversy. Is it helpful or harmful to provide an extra link in the See Also section to lead readers to this information? I think it is helpful. Where is the harm?

I hold that this case is a reasonable exception to the guideline you have referenced. It would not make sense to add a link to the See Also section for one of the more general terms which is peripheral to the article. For example, adding a link to "Harry S Truman" or "Continental Congress" would obviously be ridiculous and would only clutter the page. Again, my goal here is to make it easy for the reader to access the *relevant* information, and since the NDP Task Force has been a defendant in a lawsuit involving the NDOP and has been the chief sponsor of events on this day since its inception, it seems much more helpful than detrimental to the reader to link to the article about this organization in the See Also section.

If you have a different view and disagree with my argument, please explain. Thanks. PeaceLoveHarmony (talk) 18:35, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

It comes down to the design center of Wikipedia: links embedded in the article favor the prose reader, and links listed in an ad-hoc listing favor someone merely glancing at the article.
The policy (and I) favor the reader, and I don't see strong reason for exception in this case. (fwiw, this discussion recalls one I had when I was first editing Wikipedia and learning its gestalt.)
But if you insist on a See Also link, please add a duplicate alphabetically rather than removing it from the article text. AV3000 (talk) 20:08, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Continental Congress quotation change[edit]

I've changed The Continental Congress issued a day of prayer in 1775 to designate "a time for prayer in forming a new nation."
to The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending "a day of publick humiliation, fasting, and prayer" be observed in 1775.
(with a citation) because the original quotation was actually from former U.S. Senator Rod Grams, per NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER -- (Senate - May 04, 2000)
AV3000 (talk) 01:43, 26 April 2010 (UTC)


I suggest that the inclusion of the two Founders quotes in this section borders on violating WP:NPOV and WP:OR. Are the quotes frequently used by opponents of the National Day of Prayer? If so, their inclusion should be justified by noting that fact, with appropriate cites. Otherwise, it looks a lot like an editor has researched reasons to oppose the National Day of Prayer, which would clearly violate WP:OR, and the tone and emphasis would seem to violate WP:NPOV. --Yaush (talk) 16:36, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Please remove that section. It is original research and a synthesis of ideas. The litigation section is fine, except for that unnecessary full ruling of Crabb. That needs to go as well. Whoever wrote this section was definitely pushing his/her POV here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:34, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I concur. Lionel (talk) 00:12, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

I'm going to pull the quotes out then. --Yaush (talk) 01:27, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Crabb quote[edit]

Several issues here:

  1. It's too long: it violates Fair Use
  2. It's WP:UNDUE: it was never enforced (she stayed her ruling) and it was struck down on appeal by a higher court, so basically it's the opinion of a single judge which was invalidated
  3. Per WP:UNDUE the ruling of the Appeals Court should receive similiar treatment, and of course that would make the article unbalanced.

I'm going to remove it. Lionel (talk) 23:09, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Extremely belated comment: judge's decisions are a matter of public record and in the public domain as works of the government. Peruse wikisource:Category:United States Court of Appeals decisions for example. Points 2 & 3 are fine for the text as it was a year ago, but point 1 on fair use absolutely does not apply. SnowFire (talk) 01:59, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Global Day of Prayer is unrelated[edit]

The section about the Jerusalem Christian Review's "Global Day of Prayer" was inserted in this article (and reinstated) with no justification. This June, 1993, event was definitely not part of the National Day of Prayer and had no demonstrable influence upon it. If no one can explain its relevance, I will delete it: this topic is complex enough without adding in distracting, tangential items like this. SteveStrummer (talk) 19:24, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Removed, ten days later. SteveStrummer (talk) 22:43, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Include essay by Madison?[edit]

Here's an essay by James Madison specifically about national days of prayer. Since specific proclamations by Adams and Lincoln (well before the actual national holiday was created) are listed in the article, I think it's perfectly fair to also mention that Madison was opposed to the idea. --Galaxiaad (talk) 17:06, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

The intentions of the Founding Fathers are considered crucial by many, so I too think it would be perfectly fair to add relevant info like that. You might want to shore up its referencing with this plainspoken passage from Ralph Louis Ketcham's James Madison: "He [Madison] opposed presidential proclamations of religious holidays," p. 166. SteveStrummer (talk) 17:30, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Historical roots[edit]

Dear Binksternet,

Washington was elected as president in 1788. On April 30, 1789, he officially took control of the nations' government. It means that he set aside a National Day of Prayer in 1789 being the President of the United States (see the main article – George Washington). Please do not remove my text, it has a reference to the reliable source issued by Oxford (credible and verified). You can add your info as a new sentence or extend mine.

I have checked your links to the sources and did not find proofs that support your data: "Earlier days of prayer had been established by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, by General George Washington in 1779, again by Congress in 1780, and by President John Adams in 1798 and 1799".

Please, check it again and present precise citations. I couldn't find this quote in your book: "John Adams' signed the proclamation on March 3, 1798, with the day of prayer to take place on May 9, 1798".

So I had to reverse your edit at the moment. --Alexandra Goncharik -sms- 21:01, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

You are correct: Washington certainly took office as president April 30, 1789, and as the Oxford source says, he established a national day of prayer as president on Thursday, November 26, 1789. That particular late-November Thursday dedicated to prayer and thanksgiving was eventually made into the annual Thanksgiving holiday, not the National Day of Prayer. Surely we can tell the reader that the Thursdays in late fall dedicated to praise/prayer and thanksgiving were the predecessors of the Thanksgiving holiday which was made official by Lincoln in 1863. The Oxford book even tells the reader in the appendix that pages 47 and 161 (the latter being your reference page) tell us about Thanksgiving. The book does not mention the National Day of Prayer, not even in the appendix. That makes the Oxford book tangential at best to this topic. Remember that the National Day of Prayer came from days dedicated to prayer and fasting, not from days dedicated to praise and thanksgiving, with feasting allowed or at least no fasting required. As well, the early National Day of Prayer was usually observed in the spring or summer, like the official May setting of today.
Looking to earlier times, the first national day of prayer that was proclaimed by a US government was in 1775 at the dawning of the American Revolution, called by the Second Continental Congress, the same legislative body that adopted the United States Declaration of Independence, and called a couple more national days of prayer in 1779 and 1780. Ellis Sandoz writes about "the Continental Congress proclamations of national days of prayer, humiliation, repentance, and thanksgiving at various points during the Revolution—and intermittently proclaimed thereafter in our history as well. Such a day was proclaimed, it may be recalled, as the very first act of President George W. Bush's presidency in January 2001."[1]
Since you have checked my links you will be familiar with the following:
  • This is a proclamation by the Second Continental Congress which was signed on June 12, 1775, establishing July 20, 1775, to be "a day of Fasting and Prayer" throughout the colonies of New England.
  • This is an April 12, 1779, order from General Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, telling his troops that the Second Continental Congress had established another day of prayer throughout the United States, making Thursday, May 6, 1779, "be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence," and so on.
  • This is a proclamation by the Second Continental Congress signed on March 11, 1780, establishing "a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer" on April 26, 1780.
  • John Adams' signed this earlier proclamation on March 3, 1798, with the day of prayer to take place on May 9, 1798.
  • This is the text of John Adams' proclamation in 1799, "recommending" the date April 25, 1799, as the day of prayer.
I'm going to restore most of my earlier text, and I will write a bit about the earlier observations of prayer in New England. I will also write a bit about the difference between prayer days associated with fasting versus those associated with thanksgiving. There is also the seasonal difference of October/November/December days of thanksgiving versus April/May/June/July days of fasting. Binksternet (talk) 01:06, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Dear Binksternet, It's obvious that you've done a huge amount of work! I hope your contribution will be appreciated by readers of this article. Thanks for all these explanations. I see that you copied my text into the History section, I have no objections. I have made ​​only one minor edit. --Alexandra Goncharik -sms- 19:56, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

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