President Joe Biden is facing severe criticism from some religious leaders and Republicans after failing to include the word 'God' in his proclamation in honor of the annual National Day of Prayer. Biden, who claims to be a devout Catholic, typically ends his public remarks with the phrase 'May God bless you all, and God protect our troops'. However, his proclamation for Thursday's Day of Prayer contained no such acknowledgement of a higher power.
This has certainly raised quite a few eyebrows, with religious leaders slamming him for not mentioning the word 'God'. Republicans too took the opportunity to immediately mock Biden and compare him with Trump who mentioned the word 'God' more than five times every year in his National Prayer Day declaration.
Biden Misses Mentioning God
The president noted, "Congress, by Public Law 100-37, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a 'National Day of Prayer.'" Then, during his remarks, Biden, who identifies as a devout Catholic, applauded the United States' "remarkable religious vitality and diversity."
He also mentioned "the power of prayer to provide hope and uplift us for the work ahead" and quoted late congressman John Lewis. "Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements â including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans," the proclamation read in part.
However, who the American people would be praying to was not mentioned any time during his speech. The omission of 'God' immediately drew criticism in the Christian press, and Franklin Graham, the evangelical Christian preacher, spoke out to express disappointment.
"This is the National Day of Prayer. Of course we need to call on God, not just some generic gods, or some power in the air, but on God himself the creator," Graham told Fox News. "There's no one else to pray to except to God," he added.
Why the Fury?
Graham didn't keep his disappointment only to the interview on Fox news. He later took to Facebook to slam Biden. "Omitting God is a dangerous thing. He is who we as individuals and as a nation need to call on for help. Prayers to anyone or anything else are to no avail," Graham wrote on Facebook.
"I was deeply saddened to read that President Biden is the first president to omit the word 'God' in his proclamation," he further added in his Facebook post.
However, more that the disappointment with Bide, the Christian press is more baffled about why God was completely left out of the proclamation. Many believe that Biden probably didn't even realize that he has not mentioned god in his proclamation.
"It was probably a staff person that wrote it and maybe not even ran it by him, because I don't think Joe Biden would have approved that one," he said.
The National Day of Prayer, observed on the second Thursday of May each year, is a tradition dating back to the founding of the United States, and was codified in its current form in a 1952 law. The tradition was first started by President Harry Truman, a Democrat. It was formalized as an official holiday by Ronald Reagan.
Over the years, every president has mentioned god's name more than three times every years during their proclamation on National Day of Prayer. Biden's proclamation also gave Trump's supporters a change to criticize him once again on Friday.
Trump mentioned God eleven times in his National Day of Prayer declaration in 2020, seven times in 2019, and five times in both 2017 and 2018. President Barack Obama also mention God twice in his last declaration in 2016 and George W. Bush mentioned a deity four times in his final 2008 proclamation.