Letter to Gov Fallin re: National Day of Prayer

April 22, 2014

Dear Governor Fallin,

On behalf of the Interfaith Alliance, the Interfaith Alliance of Tulsa and Interfaith
Alliance of Oklahoma City, organizations committed to defending religious freedom
whose members represent more than 75 faith traditions, we are writing to request
that if you participate in the National Day of Prayer you ensure that your celebration
is welcoming to clergy and believers of all religions, as well as those who profess no
religion. This celebration, mandated by an act of Congress, has too often been
dominated by religious extremists who define religion by exclusion. In a nation
already deeply divided, working together, we should make this year’s National Day
of Prayer, held on May 1, a reflection of both our nation’s diversity of religious belief
and its commitment to religious freedom. This day presents a great opportunity for
us to demonstrate that religion can be a healing and reconciling force in our nation.
We are compelled to make this request because, several years ago, the National Day
of Prayer was taken over by a group of religious exclusivists led by Shirley Dobson
of Focus on the Family. Dobson’s group calls itself the “official” National Day of
Prayer Task Force yet it has no official relationship with the government and it
systematically excludes Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus and even some
mainline Protestant Christians from National Prayer Day events it conducts around
the United States.

Moreover, The National Day of Prayer Task Force requires volunteer coordinators
to sign a statement of faith which includes the following language: ” I believe that
the Holy Bible is the inspired, only, infallible, authoritative Word of The Living God.
That there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy
Spirit… That for salvation of lost and sinful men and women, regeneration by the
Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.” Government sanction of the Task Force’s work
clearly aligns a government- sponsored event with a particular Christian
denomination, in violation of the basic provisions of the First Amendment to the
Constitution, establishing the separation of church and state.We respectfully ask that you decline to participate in events sponsored by or issue a separate
proclamation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force. This group has a record of using
proclamations from and the participation of elected officials to raise the status of events in
which they discriminate against and exclude clergy who represent faith traditions other than fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.

If you do use your power of proclamation to mark the National Day of Prayer, we implore you to restore the annual day of prayer to what President Harry Truman intended when he signed it into law in 1952. Use your proclamation to bring together Americans of every religion and no religion, to express their faith in whatever way is appropriate for them. We urge you to issue a single proclamation for the day that calls for an inclusive National Day of Prayer that reflects our nation’s rich tradition of religious pluralism by explicitly inviting clergy from diverse faith traditions to participate equally and fully — especially in events held on government property.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance

Rev. Bob Lawrence, Executive Director, Tulsa Interfaith Alliance

Sarbjit Singh, President, Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma City

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