Four months ago, Christian radicals joined the insurrection at the United States Capitol, and now they don’t get to stage National Prayer Day at the Capitol:
For the first time in years, no prayer service would be conducted at the U.S. Capitol as one evangelical leader from a Christian group was reportedly denied use of the venue.
According to Christian Headlines, after his request to host this year’s National Day of Prayer at the Capitol building on Thursday, May 6, 2021, was refused, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said that “free speech is in danger today” in America.
…”It is deeply troubling for the first time in 70 years, there will not be a public prayer service at the United States Capitol Building on the National Day of Prayer,” he said. “Every American needs to be asking the question, ‘How is it possible to have public prayer prohibited at the Capitol on the National Day of Prayer?’-especially when it is a national observance designated by Congress” [Sarah Mae Saliong, “Biden Administration Won’t Allow National Day of Prayer to Be Held at US Capitol This Year,” Christianity Daily, 2021.05.04].
We don’t need to ask the question Pastor Mahoney flogs; stage an insurrection amidst a pandemic, and you can expect Congress to keep the Capitol closed to the public. And the last time members of Congress gave exceptional Capitol access to their Jesus-y constituents, things turned out poorly, so tough shiskey—this denial serves you right.
And a quick note to the radical, pro-Trump, anti-vaccine theocrats writing Christianity Daily‘s headlines: Congress, not the Biden Administration, controls the U.S. Capitol. Congress closed the Capitol to the public last year at the beginning of the pandemic. Permits for public events on the Capitol Grounds go to the United States Capitol Police, not the White House.
Good President and Catholic Joe Biden did what the law Harry Truman signed commands and proclaimed National Prayer Day yesterday. While I remain bothered that we continue to enshrine in law the anti-Commie hysteria of the McCarthy era, I can at least praise President Biden for not cloaking his dutiful proclamation with the unconstitutional promotion of his personal faith on the public dime. Instead of invoking his Christian God, President Biden honors a contemporary prophet whom we can all respect and celebrates diversity and social action instead of any one creed:
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 [President Joe Biden, “A Proclamation on National Day of Prayer,” The White House, 2021.05.05].
President Biden does far better than his predecessor, who invoked the capital-G Christian deity throughout his 2017 Prayer Day proclamation. Even Joe’s good friend Barack, who did a reasonable job of keeping his personal Christian faith from alienating his non-Christian constituents, slipped and cited his God to the exclusion of other Americans’ professed deities in his 2009 proclamation.
Meanwhile, here at home, the gal who hopes she gets to issue the Presidential go-pray order in 2025 frames South Dakota’s Prayer Day proclamation under God and Christian Scripture. Governor Kristi Noem, who often struggles with putting Christianity into action, opens her April 15 proclamation by declaring a theme for the day of “‘Lord, Pour Out Your Love, Life, and Liberty’ based on 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’” Our preacherly gubernatrix cites the same Christian Scripture stamped on the official NationalDayofPrayer.net t-shirt, available in Storm Gray, Navy, and Chocolate for $16.99.
You may find liberty in prayer, but in South Dakota, that’s not liberty to worship in any way that differs from our proclaimed Kristianity.