Straight from President Bush's official Proclamation comes this beaut: To honor the memory of those who lost their lives, to provide comfort and strength to the families of the victims, and to help ease the burden of the survivors, I call upon all Americans to pray to Almighty God and to perform acts of service. Yes, that's right. Dear Leader is urging every citizen to "pray to Almighty God." I completely support the idea of a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing governmental bungling, of course—just as Bush once said he thinks about Iraq every single day, I've been thinking about the victims of Katrina each day. What I object to is specifically calling September 16 a Day of Prayer as well, given that not every American is inclined to pray.
Of course, Bush presumably believes in his heart of silver-spoon hearts that a Day of Prayer makes sense for everyone. And heck, it's exactly what his "base" asked for. The Christian Defense Coalition and the National [Christian] Clergy Council specifically lobbied for it, writing this: "Americans are people of faith. Please use your post to once again unite us at the deepest level of our common life." Bush's Proclamation even mentions "the promise of the Scripture." So, who exactly is Bush uniting here? I'm kind of thinking that everyone who doesn't buy into Christian Scripture might feel a tad excluded, as I do. But the folks who really matter—Bush's conservative Christian base—are probably feeling mighty gratified.
So, if you share my distaste for the "Day of Prayer" concept, and even if you appreciate it, please join me in marking September 16—and September 9, and the days in between and the days that follow—as a time for remembrance and service. National organizations such as the American Red Cross and the many local groups that are aiding evacuees throughout the nation could all use our continuing help.
(Proverbial hat tip to Kristin for telling me about the Day of Prayer business.)