Setting the NDP record straight

SETTING THE NDP RECORD STRAIGHT…. We talked earlier about President Obama breaking with Bush’s habit of recognizing the National Day of Prayer. In the past few hours, though, the bizarre lies from the right about the president’s decision have been remarkable.

Let’s quickly summarize. In the early 1950s, when lawmakers were adding “under God” to the Pledge and changing all American money to include the phrase “In God We Trust,” Congress created an official annual Prayer Day for the nation. Congress, under pressure from the religious right, changed the law in 1988 to set the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May. Obama, like his predecessors, issued a proclamation (pdf) honoring the “holiday.”

So, what’s the problem? Unlike George W. Bush, Obama didn’t open up the White House to the self-appointed National Day of Prayer Task Force, run by religious right activists, which has hosted exclusive events for the last eight years.

This has led a variety of conservatives to make a variety of demonstrably false claims.

Lie #1: Rush Limbaugh said Obama tried to “cancel” the National Day of Prayer.

That’s obviously not true; Obama issued a proclamation acknowledging the day. No effort was made to “cancel” anything.

Lie #2: Fox News’ online project, Fox Nation, said the president “won’t celebrate” the National Day of Prayer.

Again, the proclamation proves otherwise.

Lie #3: Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson said the president’s decision to participate in “private” prayer on “National Prayer Day” is evidence of Obama “giving in to the PC society that we live in.”

No one pressured Obama to keep the National Day of Prayer Task Force out of the White House; it was just the obvious thing to do. As for the knock on “private” prayer, I might recommend Gretchen Carlson read Matthew 6:6.

Lie #4: Fox News’ Steve Doocy said Reagan and George H. W. Bush held events similar to that of George W. Bush.

As hard as this is to believe, Doocy has it backwards. Reagan largely ignored the NDP for his first seven years in office.

Lie #5: Elisabeth Hasselbeck said on Fox News that the National Day of Prayer “has been a huge tradition” in the U.S.

That’s just nonsense, since most presidents, like most Americans, have largely ignored the “holiday.” Besides, Obama is keeping the “tradition” going by doing what his predecessors have done — he issued a proclamation. [Update: And if we’re really going to talk about American “traditions,” it’s also worth remembering that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison explicitly rejected state-sponsored prayer days. And all Madison did was write the Constitution.]

Hasselbeck — who is she again? — concluded, “We should be able to gather and pray as we see fit.” What I’ll never understand about conservative activists is why they think they need government to get involved in spiritual matters. Hasselbeck could get together with others to pray as they see fit yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Whether the Dobsons get to hang out in the East Room of the White House is irrelevant.

Honestly, I’m not sure which is more annoying — the conservatives’ prayer-related dishonesty or their prayer-related whining.