Has President Obama canceled National Prayer Day? No.

If you’re on Facebook, you may have noticed some shrill postings regarding the alleged “cancellation” of National Prayer Day:

Obama has decided that there will no longer be a “National Day of Prayer” held in May. He doesn’t want to offend anybody. Where was his concern about offending Christians last January when he allowed the Muslims to hold a day of prayer on the capitol grounds. As a Christian American “I am offended.” if you agree copy and paste no matter what religion you are, this country was built on Freedom PASS IT ON

As it happens, there has been no official cancellation of the National Day of Prayer. President Obama simply opted not to continue holding an official service in the White House:

On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (This event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held outside the White House gates every year on the first Thursday of February.)

President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year.

“Prayer is something that the president does every day,” explained White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.”

The first National Prayer Day proclamation was signed by President Truman, and the practice became permanent with Reagan. Under President Bush, the day was a political event that was hosted annually. Not surprisingly, evangelicals and atheists alike are displeased with the treatment of this year’s National Prayer Day. While folk like Focus on the Family are outraged the celebrations of previous years are no longer occurring, the spokesman for American Atheists also complained to CNN about Obama and National Prayer Day:

“We are very happy he did away with the George W. Bush-era celebrations and party, but we wish he wouldn’t do it at all.”