USA Presidents Pray

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On George Washington’s Birthday, sometimes called President Day, City Images looks at the way our POTUS preferred to pray.

Washington's Birthday became a federal holiday back in 1879. Nearly one hundred years later in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved several federal holidays to Mondays and established Washington's Birthday as the third Monday in February. At that same time, it was recommended but not adopted that the holiday be renamed Presidents Day, to celebrate Lincoln's birthday as well.

George Washington’s Birthday was the first federal holiday to honor an individual's birth date. In 1885, Congress designated February 22 as a holiday for all Federal workers. Nearly a century later, in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed the date to the third Monday in February. The position of the holiday between the birthdays of Washington and Abraham Lincoln gave rise to the popular name of Presidents Day. Explore selected documents and images from the National Archives Catalog.

Since the founding of the USA Republic, Americans have appealed to God in times of crisis. One constant thread in the religious faith of our presidents has been their need for prayer in our nation. Today, as we deal with a deadly global epidemic, and the threat of the evil empire attacking one of our Allies a National Day of Prayer is a powerful and prudent idea. 

Forty-five percent of American Presidents were either Presbyterian or Episcopalian. Other faith traditions included evangelical churches, Deists, and one Catholic.

The role of religion in American politics has always affected voters and this is particularly true regarding the nation’s Presidents. Religion has played some part in campaigns: John Quincy Adams, a Unitarian, was accused of being an atheist in 1828; in 1928 Alfred Smith’s Catholicism was an issue. Forty Presidents were affiliated with the Protestant tradition; three claimed no affiliation and John F. Kennedy and Joe Biden are the only Catholics. How many of them used The Holy Bible as a prop and acted contrary to all religious beliefs? Whether subtle or overt, religion has been important in national politics.

Since the founding of our American Republic, Presidents have appealed to God in times of crisis. From George Washington to Joe Biden.

Regardless of faith and or religion, this could be a strategic moment to say a prayer for peace on earth and worldwide health.