The U.S. Army will take part in the annual National Day of Prayer May 1, despite efforts by Mikey Weinstein and his secularist Military Religious Freedom Foundation to bully the military into dropping involvement in the religious event.
In mid-April Weinstein sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanding that he order the military branches to stand down from any involvement in the event hosted by the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The main event will be held in Washington, D.C., at the Cannon House Office building, and will include a U.S. military color guard, a military band, a vocalist, and a chaplain, all provided by the U.S. Army.
“The planned participation by uniformed U.S. military personnel in this private fundamentalist Christian religious event, run by a non-federal entity, is an unequivocally clear violation of [a] plethora of DoD regulations and instructions,” Weinstein complained in his missive to Hagel. “The U.S. military absolutely cannot endorse these searingly sectarian events by its public participation in them.”
The Military Times reported that Weinstein's complaint “was prompted by more than two dozen senior Pentagon civilians and officers who reached out to his group, upset that military personnel would be used in the event. Weinstein would not identify those individuals, saying they fear retribution for their opposition.”
The Times noted that Weinstein's assault did not specifically attack the National Day of Prayer observance, which was federally sanctioned in 1952 when President Harry Truman signed a bill for the annual event. Rather, said the military news site, Weinstein targeted the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a predominantly evangelical group which organizes the annual Washington, D.C., observance and broadcast.
The Military Times reported that the task force “has repeatedly maintained its status as a nonpartisan, nondenominational group focused on 'the need to pray for the well-being of America and for those in leadership.'” On its website the National Day of Prayer Task Force said that the event on Capitol Hill, which will mirror hundreds of similar prayer events around the nation, is focused on “emphasizing the need for individuals to join together in corporate prayer, calling upon the unfailing character of God, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men — the God under whom this nation stands.”
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