Source: Whittier Daily News
Thursday's National Day of Prayer was once a symbol of American unity and faith in God that transcended boundaries. In recent years, though, the decades-old tradition has become mired in divisions.
Across the nation, most celebrations are organized by and for evangelical Christians, with others choosing to host alternative services. Believers in Muncie, Ind.; Oklahoma City; Troy, Mich.; Salt Lake City and more have added more inclusive events, with participation across the spiritual spectrum.
The holiday began in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked Americans to pray for guidance as it was trying to birth a nation. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting and prayer in 1863. Nearly a century later, Harry Truman made it an annual event, and in 1988, Ronald Reagan set aside the first Thursday in May so citizens could join in worship across all religious boundaries.
That changed in the 1990s, when the National Day of Prayer Committee established a task force to help coordinate activities across the country and connected it with Colorado's Focus on the Family. The conservative group, led by James Dobson, took charge of the day, then insisted that all participants adhere to its "Judeo-Christian" theological tenets.