WASHINGTON—Secular media critics were outraged when the White House made public earlier this month a photo of Vice President Mike Pence leading members of the Coronavirus Task Force in prayer for the nation and for their work.
The Internet promptly exploded.
Typical was this tweet from Thomas Chatterton Williams, a writer for New York and Harpers magazines: “Mike Pence and his coronavirus emergency team praying for a solution. We are so [expletive deleted].”
Similarly, Gizmodo Editor Matt Novak tweeted: “Mike Pence can pray whenever he likes, but I do find it odd to see him leading a prayer during a meeting of the coronavirus task force with people like the head of the CDC and Dr. Fauci.”
But Pence had his robust defenders as well.
Samaritans Purse founder Franklin Graham tweeted: “A touching & powerful photo of @VP @Mike Pence & the Presidents Coronavirus Taskforce praying when they met last week in his office. Thank you VP Pence and each one who is serving. Lets join them in asking God for His wisdom, direction, & help in the response to this virus.”
And Jonathan Merritt, a contributing writer for The Atlantic in responding specifically to Williams, observed: “Criticize Mike Pence all you want for being inept in his strategy to dealing with this. But mocking him for praying – like 79 percent of Americans have done in the past 3 months – is why so many regular Americans despise wine-and-cheese liberals.”
A few days after the Pence prayer photo became public, President Donald Trump declared March 15 a National Day of Prayer. Millions of Americans participated through online church services, in family prayer sessions and in quiet individual appeals to the Almighty.
“We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these….,” Trump tweeted. “No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”
Trump was not the first chief executive to declare such a day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took to the radio personally to lead the nation in prayer a few hours after the D-Day invasion of Europe began. President Abraham Lincolns Thanksgiving Proclamation during the Civil War was an invitation to prayer.
The first “national” day of prayer was declared for July 20, 1775, by the Continental Congress. And the official annual National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of every May, by an act of Congress signed by the President.
To this day, members of the Senate and House of Representatives are led by their respective chaplains each day in an opening prayer. In shRead More – Source