President Barack Obama issued a statement on May 4 to commemorate the National Day of Prayer, touching on many topics including religious freedom and refuge from violence.
“In times of steady calm and extraordinary change alike, Americans of all walks of life have long turned to prayer to seek refuge, demonstrate gratitude, and discover peace,” Obama said, according to The White House's office of the Press Secretary. “Sustaining us through great uncertainty and moments of sorrow, prayer allows us an outlet for introspection, and for expressing our hopes, desires, and fears.”
The threats of poverty, violence, and war around the world are all too real. Our faith and our earnest prayers can be cures for the fear we feel as we confront these realities. Helping us resist despair, paralysis, or cynicism, prayer offers a powerful alternative to pessimism. Through prayer, we often gain the insight to learn from our mistakes, the motivation to always be better, and the courage to stand up for what is right, even when it is not popular.
The National Day of Prayer is a tradition officially dating back to 1952 when former President Harry S. Truman signed the declaration into law, according to the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Even though Obama has honored the tradition every year since he took office, rumors of him cancelling the National Day of Prayer have bubbled on the internet in the form of Facebook memes for years.
“President Obama has declared that there will no longer be a 'National Day of Prayer' held in May,” stated one of the false memes in 2010, according to Fact Check. “He doesn’t want to offend anybody. Where was his concern about offending Christians last January when he allowed the Muslims to hold a day of prayer on the capitol grounds.”
But the meme rumors have continued, and fact check websites continue to dispell them.
"Today President Obama said there will NOT be a National Day of Prayer in May because he doesn't want to offend anyone,” stated another false Facebook meme floating around as recently as April 26, according to Politifact. “If this decision offends you as it does me, we need the President to know just how many Christians are offended. If you are offended, please copy and paste.”
Politifact ruled the rumor as false because Obama has never canceled the National Day of Prayer and the tradition is written into law.