Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech Credit: Public Domain photo

“Today, I pray that we can see each other as we should: not as enemies but as neighbors, and as adversaries but as fellow Americans and human beings,” President Biden wrote recalling his January visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta during the annual National Day of Prayer, which occurs the first Thursday in May.

“Only when we see ourselves in each other will justice, as scripture tells us, ‘roll down like waters,’ righteousness becomes a mighty stream,’ and America fulfills its true promise as a land of liberty and justice for all,” Biden continued.

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He called upon the people of the nation to give thanks, “in accordance with their own faith and conscience,” the president said as the country’s second Catholic to hold the office. Thanks, he added, should be extended to “our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.”

This was clearly a special appeal to members of the Republican Party, where so many of them are not owning up to their Christian practices. Each year, the president is required to sign a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. It was formalized and enacted in 1952 as part of the public reaction to the threats perceived in the Korean War. It was established by President Harry S. Truman.

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