President Trump has proclaimed the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. He will be hosting a pastor from Sutherland Springs at the White House today, where Trump is expected to speak.
As Washington Post reports, Trump is also expected to announce the creation of a faith-based office during the Rose Garden ceremony:
The White House announcement, which was first reported by Religion News Service, is expected to introduce the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, intended to signal to religious groups that they have a voice in the government.
In Trump’s administration, evangelicals have been the only religious leaders who have reported consistent access to the White House. Led by megachurch pastor Paula White and public relations executive Johnnie Moore, a group of evangelicals who advised Trump on the campaign continue to serve on an unofficial and loosely organized advisory council that continues to support the president amid Daniels’s allegations.
The office, Moore said, would focus on poverty, religious liberty, education, strengthening the family, helping prisoners, mental health and human trafficking.
Faith-based offices were considered major announcements under the past three presidents. However, Trump’s expected announcement came as a surprise to many observers. It was absent from the White House daily schedule and some attendees said they were told only of the National Day of Prayer blessing and nothing of the executive order.
— Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) May 3, 2018
This is not the first time such an office was created as former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama similarly formed ones. Previously, the office received blow-back for seemingly institutionalizing those of a certain faith in government. Some people argued the line between government and religion was blurred. Here’s more:
A similar version of the office was first created by President George W. Bush in 2001 with a mandate to partner with and serve as a resource to the faith community. The idea of the office was intended to put religious groups on equal footing with other nonprofit organizations when competing for federal funding, setting off a wave of criticism and questions about whether funding could breach a separation of church and state. Under the Bush administration, faith-based nonprofit organizations received federal grants totaling more than $10.6 billion.
Weeks into his presidency, President Barack Obama announced his version of the office at the National Prayer Breakfast, which kept Bush’s rules allowing faith-based groups to compete for grants and served as a liaison between religious leaders and the White House. Since Trump took office, the director role of the faith-based office has been vacant, although some agencies have named faith-based-office appointees.
Moore said religious leaders who are expected to appear at Thursday’s White House event include the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl; Southern Baptist pastors Jack Graham and Ronnie Floyd; Focus on the Family founder and radio host James Dobson; and author and speaker Eric Metaxas.
Moore said the White House will expand the faith-based office, and every department of the federal government will work on faith-based partnerships, not just those with faith offices.
Today is the National Day of Prayer in America. PLEASE set aside some time to pray for this nation, that God would draw us to Himself in a profound new way, and would direct us and would so bless us SO THAT WE CAN BLESS OTHERS beyond our shores. Amen.
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) May 3, 2018
Many people have taken to social media to express things they would be praying for on this day, including those who are in authority and in government.
Concerning the Day of Prayer, current Chair of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel tweeted, “On the National Day of Prayer, we humbly seek God’s guidance and grace for our nation. People of different backgrounds have united in prayer on this day to give thanks to God for our many freedoms, including the free exercise of religion.”
On the National Day of Prayer, we humbly seek God’s guidance and grace for our nation. People of different backgrounds have united in prayer on this day to give thanks to God for our many freedoms, including the free exercise of religion.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 3, 2018
Franklin Graham similarly tweeted that people should “all join together in praying for our country, our @POTUS, @VP, & all of our political leaders, regardless of their party affiliation.”
Today is the #NationalDayOfPrayer. Let’s all join together in praying for our country, our @POTUS, @VP, & all of our political leaders, regardless of their party affiliation. Pray that God would unite their hearts, & they would work together for the good of all America.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) May 3, 2018
The president declared the day in a statement, saying:
On this National Day of Prayer, we join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection. Prayer, by which we affirm our dependence on God, has long been fundamental to our pursuit of freedom, peace, unity, and prosperity. Prayer sustains us and brings us comfort, hope, peace, and strength. Therefore, we must cherish our spiritual foundation and uphold our legacy of faith.
Prayer has been a source of guidance, strength, and wisdom since the founding of our Republic. When the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate freedom from Great Britain, the delegates prayed daily for guidance. Their efforts produced the Declaration of Independence and its enumeration of the self-evident truths that we all cherish today. We believe that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Prayer sustained us and gave us the strength to endure the sacrifices and suffering of the American Revolution and to temper the triumph of victory with humility and gratitude. Notably, as one of its first acts, our newly formed Congress appointed chaplains of the House of Representatives and Senate so that all proceedings would begin with prayer.
As a Nation, we have continued to seek God in prayer, including in times of conflict and darkness. At the height of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for prayer “for the vision to see our way clearly ‑‑ to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men ‑‑ and to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.” Decades later, following one of the darkest days in our Nation’s history, President George W. Bush offered this prayer for our heartbroken country, mourning the precious souls who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001: “We ask Almighty God to watch over our Nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.”
America has known peace, prosperity, war, and depression ‑‑ and prayer has sustained us through it all. May our Nation and our people never forget the love, grace, and goodness of our Maker, and may our praise and gratitude never cease. On this National Day of Prayer, let us come together, all according to their faiths, to thank God for His many blessings and ask for His continued guidance and strength.
In 1988, the Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer, “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3 as a National Day of Prayer. I encourage all Americans to observe this day, reflecting on the blessings our Nation has received and the importance of prayer, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities in their houses of worship, communities, and places of work, schools, and homes.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 3, 2018
Here’s what some people are saying:
By Act of Congress and presidential proclamation, Pres designates first Thursday in May as National Day of Prayer, on which Americans “may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Prayer event in Rose Garden event at 11AM/ET. pic.twitter.com/IAFJvvyFaW
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 3, 2018
Today is the National Day of Prayer.
— Ainsley Earhardt (@ainsleyearhardt) May 3, 2018
— Ronnie Floyd (@ronniefloyd) May 3, 2018
— Right to Life (@nrlc) May 3, 2018
— Paula White-Cain (@Paula_White) May 3, 2018