FACT CHECK: Was The National Day Of Prayer Not Observed In DC For The First Time In 70 Years?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook over 1,700 times claims the National Day of Prayer was not observed in Washington, D.C. for the first time in 70 years.

Verdict: False

The day was observed by President Joe Biden and others within Washington D.C., according to a spokesperson from the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Fact Check: 

The U.S. has officially observed the National Day of Prayer, an “annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation,” since 1952, according to the National Day of Prayer website. The day is typically marked by religious events and gatherings at the U.S. Capitol building as well as a proclamation from the president, the National Day of Prayer website reads.

A post shared on Facebook May 6, this year’s National Day of Prayer, says: “First time in 70 years the National Day Of Prayer was not observed in our nations (sic) capital!Are you awake yet!”

While there was no in-person prayer service held at the U.S. Capitol building, which is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year, Biden still observed the National Day of Prayer. There was no in-person prayer service at the Capitol building last year either, and former President Donald Trump instead held a celebration in the Rose Garden, according to CNN.

Biden, a practicing Catholic, issued a proclamation on May 5 saying the National Day of Prayer would be observed on May 6. (RELATED: Did NASCAR Eliminate Pre-Race Prayers, Military Flyovers And National Anthem Performances?)

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2021, as a National Day of Prayer,” reads Biden’s proclamation, in part. “I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in prayers for spiritual guidance, mercy, and protection.”

Biden also participated in a broadcast from Pray.com, saying he was praying for the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Day of Prayer Task Force broadcasted its event live from the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., further proving the day was observed in the nation’s capital.

Dion Elmore, the vice-president of marketing and public relations for the National Day of Prayer Task Force, confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that the post’s claim is false.

“President Biden issued a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer, and the National Day of Prayer was indeed observed in Washington D.C., through both local events and the National Day of Prayer Task Force national broadcast which was live from the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. this year,” Elmore said.

The erroneous claim may stem from an April 26 tweet sent by Rev. Patrick Mahoney that reads, “After our permit was denied, for the first time in 70 years, there will be NO PUBLIC witness at the U.S. Capitol Building for the National Day Of Prayer!”

Mahoney was denied a permit to hold a prayer gathering at the Capitol building on May 6, Christian Headlines reported. Despite there not being an in-person prayer gathering at the Capitol, the day was still observed and celebrated across D.C.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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