May 2, 2012 10:26 AM by AP
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has proclaimed this Thursday a National Day of Prayer.
The proclamation - signed Tuesday as Obama flew to Afghanistan - urges Americans to pray for U.S. troops and their families, while noting that America "protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience."
Karen Johnson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force says most of the tens of thousands of scheduled events will reflect the nation's Judeo-Christian heritage, but everyone is welcome to participate.
She adds that a 35 percent increase in prayer events scheduled this year may be a reaction to atheists' failed efforts to have government recognition of the annual Day of Prayer declared unconstitutional.