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How inclusive is the National Day of Prayer?

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The National Day of Prayer "has been hijacked," says Jane Hunter, codirector of Jews on First. "Only Christian clergy are invited to participate.... And they encourage their coordinators to enlist elected officials or stage their observances on public property." This undermines the First Amendment's prohibition against any establishment of religion, she says.

On the National Day of Prayer Official Website, the task force requires that volunteer coordinators agree to a lengthy belief statement that begins: "I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of the Living God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation...." The coordinators are to ensure that only Christians conduct the events, although anyone may attend them.

"From our standpoint, we feel our nation was founded on Christian principles, and that's our basis for making the day Judeo-Christian," says Brian Toon, vice chairman of the task force. "We don't exclude others from holding their own events."

In a policy statement, the task force says Congress intended that the day be celebrated in diversity, by groups of different theological views, but "not that every faith and creed would be homogenized."

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