N.Y. Governor Last to Back National Day of Prayer

NEW YORK – The governor of New York has joined the other 49 governors in issuing a proclamation supporting this year's observance of the National Day of Prayer.

On Monday, less than a week before Americans across the fifty states were scheduled to pray for the nation, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's issued proclamation appeared on the Democratic governor's website declaring May 3, 2007, as a Day of Prayer and Reflection in the Empire State.

Although the proclamation is dated Apr. 25, there was no indication from the governor's office prior to Monday that a proclamation was forthcoming and the only official proclamation listed last week for the month of May was for Cinco De Mayo.

"Governors in 49 states and the President of the United States have signed proclamations designating a day of prayer," noted Dr. James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, in a statement released Monday. "Gov. Spitzer was asked in January to issue such a declaration by April 1st if possible. No response was received as of Friday, April 27. Phone calls from the governor's office were not returned, and pastors and volunteers who inquired were treated rudely and given no indication that a proclamation was forthcoming."

Earlier in the day, Dobson had alerted listeners of Focus on the Family's daily broadcast of the "slap in the face that the governor of New York has delivered to people of faith all across the country" and encouraged Americans from all states to call the governor's office in response.

"Considering what happened in New York City on 9/11, and the fact that New York has been most often targeted for destruction by terrorists, we believe prayer in that state should be a priority," Dobson said in his statement Monday, after the proclamation was officially issued. "We are pleased that Gov. Spitzer has now designated Thursday, May 3rd, as a day of prayer."

According to Spitzer's press secretary, Christine Anderson, the governor "always intended to sign it," reported CitizenLink, a ministry of Focus on the Family.

She added that the prayer breakfast – which had been an annual event under the previous governor – was canceled "for scheduling reasons."

But Gary Schneeberger, senior media director of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, noted that the governor's alleged intention was never made known.

"Governor Spitzer had several opportunities to tell NDP representatives he would sign the proclamation," said Schneeberger, according to CitizenLink. "Instead, his staff treated those who asked about it rudely. What other conclusion could we have drawn other than that he was not inclined to acknowledge the power of prayer for his state?"

Jean Truty, who works for the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said a letter requesting a proclamation was mailed to Spitzer in January. The letter asked for a response by April 1, CitizenLink reported. Two weeks ago, the NDP staff started calling his office.

"Governor Spitzer has never been a friend to pro-family causes," Schneeberger noted. "He's introduced a bill to legalize gay marriage and has worked to shore up abortion rights. He has not earned the benefit of the doubt from the pro-family community."

Conservatives have been expressing frustration with the New York governor more recently, especially after unveiling last Friday a bill that would legalize same-sex "marriage."

Although Spitzer admitted that the bill had no "realistic shot" of being passed, he said it was "a statement of principle that I believe in and I want to begin that dynamic."

The New York governor was also criticized 5 years ago by pro-life groups for harassing 24 non-profit crisis pregnancy centers that sought to dissuade women from having abortions on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The National Day of Prayer, which has been held annually for the past 56 years since President Truman signed into law a bill proclaiming the day, will take place this Thursday and encourages Americans to collaboratively pray for the nation, regardless of religious backgrounds.

A task force, which is run out of Focus on the Family's headquarters, is in charge of coordinating events, and was made to get more citizens united in prayer for the nation's leadership.

According to the task force's official policy statement, "[The] diversity [of Americans] is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for this nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate."

The day has five main topics that the task force focuses on which it considers the "five centers of power" – church, education, family, government and media.

Christian Post reporter Doug Huntington in New York contributed to this report.

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