Gathering at Capitol for National Day of Prayer Canceled: 'Free Speech Is in Danger'

(Unsplash/Louis Velazquez)

For the first time since its conception in 1952, there will be no formal gathering at the U.S. Capitol for the National Day of Prayer on May 6, 2021.

The U.S. Congress first called for national recognition of prayer in 1775, but it wasn't designated as a formal celebration on the first Thursday in May until 1952. This came through a joint resolution encouraging Americans to seek "personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America's leaders and its families," per the official website. Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney was denied a permit to hold a prayer gathering in honor of this celebration, a situation with which the director of the Christian Defense Coalition is all too familiar.

Mahoney was also denied a permit to host a public Good Friday service at the Capitol, an event that was permitted under COVID-19 restrictions in the height of the pandemic in 2020. Yet his application to host again in 2021 was denied because the area of the Capitol where the planned service was to be held was considered "restricted" following the Jan. 6 riots.

Then-President Trump thanked God for the "gift of faith" at the 2020 National Day of Prayer White House observance.

Mahoney issued a statement obtained by Charisma News regarding the recent development of restrictions, calling for the "People's House" to be returned to its rightful occupants.

It is deeply troubling for the first time in 70 years, there will not be a public prayer service at the United States Capitol Building on the National Day of Prayer. Every American needs to be asking the question, "How is it possible to have public prayer prohibited at the Capitol on the National Day of Prayer?"—especially when it is a national observance designated by Congress.

The "People's House," as the U.S. Capitol Building is so rightly called, must be a place where all Americans are afforded the right to come and peacefully celebrate and express their First Amendment rights. Tragically, those rights and freedoms are being denied and prohibited.

I will continue to work to ensure the "People's House" is returned to the people and the First Amendment is once again celebrated and honored at the United States Capitol.

While the Capitol may not be the site where believers intercede for the nation's soul, other organizations are utilizing the 70-year-old celebration to encourage prayer and repentance on behalf of all Americans.

Full Gospel Tabernacle Church of God in Christ is hosting an online and in-person celebration, imploring for the Lord to "Pour out Your love, life and liberty."

Thankfully the prayers of God's people are heard every day, but churches around the country still plan on petitioning on May 6.

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