'God' Nowhere to Be Found in Biden's Proclamation on National Day of Prayer

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Posted: May 07, 2021 8:30 AM
'God' Nowhere to Be Found in Biden's Proclamation on National Day of Prayer

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

On the National Day of Prayer this week, President Biden, whom the White House has described as a “devout Catholic,” omitted reference to God in his proclamation, becoming the first president in modern history to do so.

Setting aside a National Day of Prayer came about after President Truman signed a law in 1952 calling on the president to dedicate a day for Americans to “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

Truman issued the first proclamation that year on July 4 to “coincide with the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.” But in 1988 Congress stated the president should set aside the first Thursday in May for the proclamation.

According to the University of California Santa Barbara's American Presidency Project, each proclamation since the law’s inception included the word “God” until Biden’s.

“Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance,” Biden's proclamation states. “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 proclamation continues: “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.”

Critics took to Twitter to call the president out for failing to mention God once.

Below is the full text of the proclamation:

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.