Lots of prayer at the State Capital today
Day of Prayer reaches out to all in Valley
May. 8, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The National Day of Prayer, observed on Thursday, was established in 1952.
At the time, Sen. A. Willis Robertson said the day would help combat "the
corrosive forces of communism which seek simultaneously to destroy our
democratic way of life and the faith in an Almighty God on which it is based."
Nobody was praying to hold off the Commies on Thursday. Across the Valley and
the country, more pressing concerns appeared.
People asked for patience and wisdom, praying for educators and soldiers and
senators and even reporters. Small events were held all across the Valley. Some
folks met in churches while others gathered informally.
Standing near a flag pole in front of the state Capitol early Thursday morning,
Guy Chadwick requested those gathered to ask God for mercy.
"We know there are many things that we face in our state," Chadwick said. "We
ask that you show us mercy."
About two dozen people then silently walked into the House of Representatives
chambers. At 7 in the morning, the chambers were empty and the carpet was
It was quiet as people began to walk through the room. They stopped at
individual desks to pray for the lawmakers. They placed their hands on the desks
while they murmured their prayers. Then they did the same thing in the Senate
Later Thursday morning, state Sen. Russell Pearce said the state could use any
help it could get at this time of budget troubles and other issues.
"I absolutely do. I pray every day. I pray all through the day," Pearce said.
"Issues are tough. We need guidance."
Prayer is an important part of the day for many people.
A survey by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2008 said that 58 percent of Americans
pray every day, and that 17 percent pray at least once a week.
In Arizona, 53 percent pray every day, and 15 percent pray at least once a week.
Rhonda Vogt, 51, of Phoenix, prayed on Thursday.
"The best hope for our country and our state is through prayer," Vogt said. "The
leaders should lead and we should pray. That's our part."
In Washington, the White House observed the day by issuing a proclamation, but
it did not hold any public events.
That was a disappointment to some Christian conservatives, who were hoping for a
public prayer like George W. Bush held.
"We are disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration,"
said Shirley Dobson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a private group
that promotes prayer events around the country. "At this time in our country's
history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance
Some atheists believe the government should have no role in this day.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims the day violates the
separation of church and state, filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the
judge to declare the law unconstitutional and to order presidents and governors
to stop issuing prayer proclamations.
The Obama administration asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to dismiss the
case in March. The administration, which argued the group has no legal standing
to sue, said that the tradition's roots date to 1775 and that most presidents
have invoked faith in a higher power.
It also said the day does not promote religion and argued that preventing
presidents from issuing a proclamation would unfairly restrict how they
communicate with Americans.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.