We Europeans, especially in countries with a better tradition of separation between church and state (French readers, anyone?), are always taken aback when we hear that American civil institutions explicitly endorse religious rituals, such as a “Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance”. It reminds us of other American amenities such as the Creation Museum. Yet, according to the official website of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a National Day of Prayer was first established by President Truman in 1952, after a joint Congressional resolution, and then signed into law with the official date of the first Thursday in May by President Reagan in 1988.
Last week, the Freedom of Religion Foundation sued President Bush and others over the law. It’ll be an interesting lawsuit.
I keep thinking that the post-apocalyptic world imagined by Neal Stephenson in Anathem, where learned people live in seclusion, do not use money and are resolutely atheist (while the rest of the world’s population is decidedly unlearned, shopaholic, and worships all sorts of gods and prophets), is not an improbable outcome.
For proof that religion and commerce these days are relentlessly intertwined, look no further than the home page of the National Day of Prayer Task Force site.