America: One Nation Under…What?

Recently Fox News ran an article entitled ‘God’ left out of Biden’s National Day of Prayer proclamation. Not that I questioned the veracity of the report, given President Joe Biden’s campaign to eradicate natural law from society as per his pro-LGBTQI policies, I was, nevertheless, compelled by curiosity to read exactly what the proclamation stated. After all, what is prayer if one does not invoke God?

It is important to know that the National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance, designated by the U.S. Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” President Harry Truman, in 1952, signed into law an annual National Day of Prayer; in 1988, President Ronald Reagan amended the law by permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. The president is required by law to sign a proclamation each year encouraging all Americans to pray to God on this day.

Yet, unlike his predecessors (even former President Barack Obama), who explicitly mentioned “God” in their National Day of Prayer proclamations, Biden’s proclamation does, in fact, omit any invocation to our Creator.

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Biden’s refusal to acknowledge God in his proclamation is a far cry from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s television and radio broadcast of February 7, 1954. To kick off the American Legions “Back to God” campaign, Eisenhower’s act was to honor the famous “four chaplains” (ministers) of four different denominations who died at sea during the war when they gave their life jackets to others on board their sinking ship. 

The average progressive politician or atheist may say, in defense of Biden, that the president was simply respecting Americans’ “many religions and belief systems” in observance of the separation between church and state as required by the First Amendment. However, appealing to the Creator for guidance and understanding, as so many presidents from George Washington to Donald Trump have done, is not a violation of our First Amendment of separation between church and state as today’s liberals hold. It is part of our American DNA as our Founding Fathers believed.  

On June 28, 1787, during the Constitutional Convention, the Framers of the Constitution were at an impasse which threatened to undue the independence and sovereignty of the new American nation. Benjamin Franklin requested of George Washington, who served as president of the Convention, that all present pray to God for guidance

In the beginning of the Contest with G[reat] Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered…. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?

The same can be said during the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Eliza Gurney dated October 16, 1862, went so far as to even see God in times of trial as a source of strength:

If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it. 

As a Catholic, I naturally believe God is present amid every situation, whether good or bad, and that in His permissive will He even allows tragedies to occur so that something greater may come from it. And it is through prayer (i.e., conversation with God) that “We the People” literally comply with our nation’s motto e pluribus unum (from many to one).

When the then-Soviet Union was embedding its atheistic Communist doctrine throughout the world, Eisenhower—joined by the now Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City—reiterated the one unifying feature of the American experience, faith in God: 

By the millions, we speak prayers, we sing hymns, and no matter what their words may be, their spirit is the same, ‘In God is our Trust.’

Biden has, of course, continually made references to God in his speeches. Yet, as per his privatizing his Catholic beliefs in his defense of abortion rights—this has nothing to do with religion since even an atheist can acknowledge life in the womb—his National Day of Prayer Proclamation manifests that God is to remain within the realm of the individual (as with Communist Russia, and China) having nothing to do in guiding our nation’s livelihood. At least the White House was courteous enough to retain the formal dating “the year of our Lord…” in the document.

I live in Italy, and I can attest that because there is no invocation to the Almighty (let alone encouraging us to pray) in Italian body politic, or the rest of western continental Europe—the place where Christianity received “its most effective cultural and intellectual imprint” as Benedict XVI once said—Europe has become decrepit.

In his 2020 National Day of Prayer Proclamation, President Donald Trump stated:

As one Nation under God, [‘under God’ was added to the pledge of Allegiance by President Eisenhower on June 14, 1954], we share a legacy of faith that sustains and inspires us and a heritage of religious liberty. Today, we join together and lift up our hearts, remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’

If America is not going to invoke God during the National Day of Prayer Proclamation, it is no longer “one nation under God.” If that is the case, America is then under what?

[Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images]


  • Fr. Mario Alexis Portella

    Fr. Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He was born in New York and holds a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He is the author of Islam: Religion of Peace?—The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up (Westbow Press, 2018).

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