President Joe Biden raised more than eyebrows when he omitted any mention of God in his National Day of Prayer proclamation. What he did was unprecedented: No previous president has failed to mention God since the day it was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry Truman.
When asked about Biden's omission, Rev. Franklin Graham was generous in his remarks. "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." Maybe.
Even if Graham is right, that doesn't settle the issue. Why would a speechwriter nix God from a presidential speech about prayer?
It is no secret that the Democratic Party is home to secularists. Those who have no religious affiliation, as well as agnostics and atheists, have laid anchor in the Party, many of whom are openly hostile to religion and people of faith. It is not a leap to conclude that this mentality colored Biden's prepared remarks.
Last summer, Secular Democrats of America was welcomed at the Democratic National Convention. They were given three panels to voice their concerns, and they did not hold back in lambasting Christian conservatives. At another session, held on Aug. 18, hundreds of secular Democrats tuned in to an event hosted by this group. It featured congressmen, state lawmakers, and activists: they focused on what they said were constitutional threats made by some Christians.
Last fall saw the establishment of Humanists for Biden, an offshoot of Secular Democrats of America. It was headed by a professor who calls himself a chaplain, even though he is an atheist and the term chaplain refers to a clergyman.
In December, Secular Democrats of America submitted a 28-page report to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris outlining their animus against religious liberty. They essentially want to secularize religious institutions, gutting most religious exemptions. Their demonization of white Christians was perhaps the most odious aspect of the report.
Militant secularists have long hated the National Day of Prayer. In 2003, the American Humanist Association established a National Day of Reason; even the secular-minded media ignore it. Cribbing off the National Day of Prayer, which is celebrated on the first Thursday in May, the atheists chose the same day to mark their event. Looks like it didn't accomplish too much this year.
"There is no specific location where this holiday is celebrated," the Holidays Calendar said.
In 2010, Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Christian-bashing atheist organization, argued in court that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. It won in a district court but lost on appeal. A federal appeals court ruled that the organization lacked standing, adding that its "feeling of alienation" was not sufficient grounds to file suit.
"Hurt feelings differ from legal injury," the court said.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force organizes this annual event; it is privately funded. Those who are averse to prayer are free to ignore it. But those who choose to participate are expected to pay tribute to God, which is why what President Biden did was inexplicable at best and objectionable at worst.
To the extent that Biden's remarks reflect the sentiments of those who are running the White House, this does not speak well for him or his administration. More importantly, it doesn't bode well for the country.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.