Harry Truman's National Day of Prayer Proclamation
In the 1950s America was gripped by fear that Communism might take over the world. The world was divided into two and a Cold War began. What had been allies were now bitter enemies, seeking to carve up the world between them. On one side stood the godly folk and on the other the ungodly. During this era the words "under God" were added to the pledge of allegiance, and the first annual proclamations of a National Day of Prayer were established. The first came from the pen of Harry Truman. Note that while there are statements that reflect the fact that Christians are the majority ("year of our Lord" and "churches" there is nothing explicitly Christian about this proclamation. Note too that it was made at the direction of Congress. Note as well that nothing is said here about gathering at government buildings or sites for observances -- but rather in churches, in homes, and in hearts. Pray as you deem fitting.
June 17, 1952
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas from the earliest days of our history our people have been accustomed to turn to Almighty God for help and guidance; and
Whereas in times of national crisis when we are striving to strengthen the foundations of peace and security we stand in special need of divine support; and
Whereas the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on April 17, 1952 (66 Stat. 64), has provided that the President “shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation”; and
Whereas I deem it fitting that this Day of Prayer coincide with the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which published to the world this Nation’s “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”:
Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this 17th day of June in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-sixth.