This is a dicey year for the president threatening religious liberty to be issuing a proclamation to honor the day called for national prayer. He chose his words carefully.

Let’s look at President Obama’s proclamation:

Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.

On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience.

Hold on. Right there. That wording reveals a narrow view of what constitutes religious freedom, specifically that it means people can pray or worship, or not, according to…what?…their conscience. So there it is again, another example of this administration morphing freedom of religion into freedom of worship. Which views the participation of religiously informed people in the public and political arena as something to be defined and restricted by government. While those people are welcome to go behind the doors of their home or worship space and do whatever prayers or services they wish.

And “according to the dictates of their conscience” is peculiar wording for a president whose administration is, through the HHS mandate, requiring individuals and religious institutions to do something that violates their conscience.

Back to the proclamation:

Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another.

May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other? Who constitutes each other? Who is excluded from the class of those worthy of such protection or provision of care? Of course, it’s the unborn, every human being already in existence but not yet completely through the birth canal at delivery. Who in the abortion industry or among its supporters is listening to ‘the better angels’ that by human nature, we all surely have?

Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue.

Yes, let’s.

Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.

Without attaching to such relief the condition that contraception and abortion be part of the package of aid.

Let us also pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered our country’s call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace. Our grateful Nation is humbled by the sacrifices made to protect and defend our security and freedom. Let us pray for the continued strength and safety of our service members and their families. While we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending liberty, let us remember and lend our voices to the principles for which they fought — unity, human dignity, and the pursuit of justice.

Yes, let us remember and honor human dignity. And the pursuit of justice. And be unified in our defense of the liberty to do so in private and in public.

Amen to that.

UPDATE: Religious freedom expert interprets Obama’s prayer proclamation.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....