Moving from a state where godlessness is celebrated to one where God is honored has been quite the cultural shift. So it was exciting to see all the commemorations, celebrations, and programs planned for The National Day of Prayer on May 2, 2024, at the State Capitol and throughout Alabama.

I just wish the National Day of Prayer Task Force had been tasked to manage the clown show within the State Capitol chambers, because this year the House of Representatives chose to begin their session with a Hindu Prayer.

It turned out as expected.

“[Hindu statesman Rajan] Zed was first to the podium, a guest of State Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika),” 1819 News reported. “Zed was interpreted by Arpita Patel a guest of State Rep. Mike Shaw (R-Hoover).”

‘The fundamental principle of Hinduism is ahimsa, meaning non-violence in thought, speech and action,’ Patel said. ‘With this sentiment in mine, we would like to offer a prayer with you all for there to be infinite peace, good and enlightenment for all in our great state of Alabama.'

Zed later complained his prayer was cut short. This is the problem with attempts at “inclusiveness.” No matter how much is given, there will always be more demanded.

It’s too bad Rep. Gray didn’t do his research before inviting a Hindu statesman to be first at the podium, or even at the podium at all. A simple look at the National Day of Prayer website shows that the unifying thread of the day is the Judeo-Christian expression of prayer, petitioning God for repentance and mercy:

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible. [Emphasis added.]

Prayers by Catholic State Rep. Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile), Reformed Baptist State Rep. Phillip Rigsby (R-Huntsville), and Missionary Baptist State Rep. Patrick Sellers (D-Birmingham) followed the Hindu prayer. The latter later “retook the microphone to praise the ‘historical day in our House Chamber.’”

Historically bad, yes. This is not the heart nor the focus of the National Day of Prayer, and this effort to bring in other faiths totally missed the mark – which is the definition of sin. Being open and inclusive is not the purpose of the National Day of Prayer – it’s to acknowledge God (not any interpretation of “god,” but the God of the Bible) and petition Him for mercy, because He is the only one who can give it.

If the Alabama House of Representatives wanted to make the National Day of Prayer an inclusive enterprise, then why exclude other key Christian denominations? Where was the Pentecostal representation? Or the Church of Christ representation? The “Judeo” part of Judeo-Christian was also missing. The Jewish Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” should have been recited. For that matter, where were the Buddhist chants of “Om Mani Padme Hum”? Or Wiccan? You see what I am getting at.

I am all for ecumenical prayer gatherings and have attended more than a few. They teach a lot about others’ beliefs, and how we are different, yet the same. There’s a time for every purpose and every work, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, but the National Day of Prayer is not the day for bringing non-Christian faiths together. 

The following explanation of how Wiccans approach prayer is a perfect example of why the National Day of Prayer and non-Christian aims do not mix:

You can pray to anyone you like. You can pray to a god, a goddess, or the Grand High Poobah of the Toaster Oven. Pray to whoever -- or whatever -- is most likely to take an interest in your dilemma. …

Some people pray simply to spirits -- spirits of the earth, of the sky, of the sea, etc.

In addition to praying to gods or spirits, some Pagans pray to their ancestors, and that's perfectly acceptable too. 

We are praying to the God of the Bible, the creator of the universe and the only one who can activate, motivate, and empower us to produce the changes needed in our state and nation. If we are just going through a ritual to make us feel better, then God help us, because we are lost.

Jennifer Oliver O'Connell, As the Girl Turns, is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications. Jennifer writes on Politics and Pop Culture, with occasional detours into Reinvention, Yoga, and Food. You can read more about Jennifer's world at her As the Girl Turns website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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