Normally I would not care one way or the other about Obama toning down National Day of Prayer observances given that I’m an agnostic. I have never liked the idea of the Federal Government “sanctioning” anything of a religious nature such as prayer. In this case, I comment given a Christian conservative friend of mine, who is very much aware of my non-religious nature, was all in a tizzy over the President’s decision, calling it spiteful and an “attack” on Christians nation wide.
To this I pointed out that most Americans didn’t care or were even aware of day set aside for prayer so how could it be an “attack”. I also reminded him of several other points to which he grudingly agreed: the government should not be sanctioning one religion or religious practice over others, Christians should pray daily anyway (let alone live moral lives according to their beliefs), and that Obama was just returning to the pre-Bush days of how the day was recognized. I then added he shouldn’t allow someone, be it a member of his congregation or a church leader, to twist his faith into anger, rage, or other negative emotions incompatible with the core teachings of Christianity over a non-existant slight. In the end he agreed I was right and indicated he was going to pray for forgiveness tonight for allowing another to disrupt his personal relationship with God.
I may be an agnostic but I respect those of faith. I think the caution here for those who are religious is to avoid letting contrived controversies interfere with your faith and its practices. More importantly, don’t allow your faith to be used by others to push agendas. One does not need, nor should they desire, government sanction to justify or support their religious practice.