Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 4 May 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Newdow ponders Protestant proclamation

Michael Newdow, who has litigated many state-church entanglements, wondered if a court would uphold President Obama’s prayer proclamation, with the minor change of adding “Protestant” in front of the word “prayer.” Newdow added some other historic facts which would tend to show early colonial preference for Protestantism to this mythical proclamation based on Obama’s 2011 day of prayer proclamation:

Presidential Proclamation National Day of Protestant Prayer

Throughout our history, Americans have turned to Protestant prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.

Protestant prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation’s leaders. The first permanent English-speaking settlement in North America was in Jamestown, Virginia, where Protestantism was deemed the true religion, and twice daily the captain of the guard led the settlers in a prayer that referred to Catholics as “the scum & dregs of the earth.” George Washington and John Adams signed the 1774 Articles of Association on behalf of the “free Protestant colonies,” and one of the grievances against King George III noted in the Declaration of Independence was his allowing Catholicism to thrive in neighboring Canada. In striving to perpetuate Protestantism, Samuel Adams (the “Father of the American Revolution”) noted that “much more is to be dreaded from the growth of popery in America, than from the Stamp Act or any other acts destructive of civil rights.” The first Chief Justice, John Jay, was a rabid anti-Catholic, and the sentiments he and others brought to bear allowed the Protestants’ (King James) version of the Bible to be the one used in the nation’s schools. There, too, could the New England Primer be found, exhorting the students to “abhor that arrant whore of Rome.”

It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country’s history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role Protestantism has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Protestant Prayer, let us follow the example of Chief Justice Jay, every president from 1952 on, and every chaplain of the House of Representatives through 2000. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all Protestant faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.

Let us engage in Protestant prayer for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us engage in Protestant prayer for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.

Let us remember in our thoughts and Protestant prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our Protestant prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.

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 Protestant Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Protestant Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

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