President Barack Obama has a message for America: Let's come together to "pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation." Why the religious overtones, you ask? Today is the National Day of Prayer, an annual event that is intended "to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture."
This year marks the 61st observance of the initiative, which was created in 1952 by a joint resolution in the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. As is customary, Obama issued a proclamation in observance of the day.
(Related: Dem Rep. Pete Stark Praises Atheists‘ ’National Day of Reason’ on House Floor)
In his statement, the president shared his views on the historical importance of prayer and religious protection. Additionally, he praised the nation's Armed Forces and challenged all Americans to participate in showering prayer upon America.
Here's Obama's address, in full:
Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience. Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another. Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue. Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.
Let us also pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered our country's call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace. Our grateful Nation is humbled by the sacrifices made to protect and defend our security and freedom. Let us pray for the continued strength and safety of our service members and their families. While we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending liberty, let us remember and lend our voices to the principles for which they fought -- unity, human dignity, and the pursuit of justice.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3, 2012, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I call upon individuals of all faiths to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
As the religious join the president in celebrating this day, atheists and non-believers are observing their alternative to the event -- the National Day of Reason. Rather than advancing prayer, the initiative is aimed at spreading non-belief, "reason" and secular tenets.
(H/T: Huffington Post)