By: John Krikorian, Publisher
The Power of the Podium!
Senior LIVING has taken a look at several cities in our region, as to how and when they observe this special day. We also reviewed how the date manages to tie in to local elections to the benefit of incumbents, for city council races.
The roots of the Mayors' Prayer Breakfast go back to the early 1950s, in the context of the Cold War, when a joint resolution of Congress, signed by President Harry Truman, declared an annual National Day of Prayer. This was the era in which "under God" was spliced into the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower presided over the first National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Soon prayer breakfasts multiplied and became fixtures in state capitals and other communities across the country, sometimes set for the National Day of Prayer and sometimes held on other dates.
Despite the participation of public officials and their public prominence, the breakfasts are technically private, not official, government-sponsored events. Therefore, they usually manage to avoid charges that they violate the constitutional doctrine of the separation of church and state.
Still, it's easy to see the confusion that such not-quite-official events create. Particularly when prayer breakfasts are more stridently sectarian, like the one that Rabbi Husbands-Hankin experienced a few years ago, they convey a message - not simply that one faith community is praying for public leaders, but that the U.S. is one nation under a particular God, and that this particular religion has special governmental access and authority. Implicit endorsement by public officials through their participation lends powerful weight to such exclusionary messages.
In some communities, prayer breakfasts are broadly inclusive, reaching out to various Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims and others. In most places, they are not. Also, May lst is the official day that is set-aside for Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC and throughout most states and cities in our country.
President Barack Obama National Prayer Breakfast 2011 speech this year, was on Thurs. Feb. 3, 2011, at the annual event in Washington, DC
In a survey of Mayor Prayer Breakfast dates, in Senior LIVING Magazine’s area, we find that the Cities of Pasadena, Burbank and El Monte are on or near the original May lst date. Duarte and Monrovia schedules the observance just prior to Thanksgiving. Which, seems to be an appropriate time to give Thanks. Another city that has a similar event is Glendale that holds their event in March each year, just prior to the City Council election date, thus seemingly giving the Mayor or any city council, if they are up for re-election a heads up over other candidates.
• Alhambra and Arcadia stopped observing this event a few years ago.
• Burbank at press time scheduling the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on or near the 2nd Thursday in May, at the Pickwick Gardens in Burbank. This will be the 60th Anniversary of this special event. The Reorganization meeting date, for selection by the present City Council of the new Mayor, is set for after the upcoming elections. The event is co-sponsored by the Master’s Men Club of Burbank, plus their local Kiwanis, Noon Rotary, Sunrise Rotary and Magnolia Park Optimist.
• El Monte/South E Monte hold their “National Day Prayer Breakfast on May 5, titled “Prayer” America’s Strength and Shield”, the event at the So. El Monte Community Center will have Tom Armstrong, El Monte Assistant Chief of Police as their Inspirational Speaker. The Civitan Club, Local Churches and Business & Professional Women host the event,
• Glendale: The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is held in March of each year. This year as in the past at the Glendale Civic Center and will be held March 10th, with Lisa Bowman, being the keynote speaker with her theme “Rejoice”, Just prior to local community elections.
• Pasadena “Hope: A Path to a Better Future”” is the theme of the 2011 Mayor’s Prayer that is scheduled for May 5 at the Pasadena Hilton. The keynote speaker this year is Father Greg Boyle, pastor of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights, who began what has become Homeboy Industries. As with most the cities that hold this event, it brings together civic, business, religious and community members together near the actual National Day of Prayer.
Senior LIVING would like to hear from our readers as to their thoughts on this topic, as to timing, sponsorship, and the need for such an observance: Write: Senior Living, Dept Power of the Podium, PO Box 2065, Glendale, CA 91209 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org