National Day Of Prayer Day Event Divides Clergy In Indiana

An evangelical preacher who organized and presided over a National Day of Prayer gathering outside city hall in Muncie, Ind., divided the community when he publicly said only Christians could speak at the event.

"This is a Christian event that we have done for years," the Rev. William Keller told the Indianapolis Star. "This year, the interfaith people wanted to make something out of it, but they can't. This is Christian."

Keller is affiliated with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, an evangelical organization that promotes, fosters and hosts prayer-day activities throughout the nation's public buildings and places. The Task Force is housed in James Dobson's Focus on the Family ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., and is chaired by his wife, Shirley Dobson.

Keller's announcement that only Christians would be welcome at a noon ceremony outside Muncie City Hall prompted interfaith leaders to organize a separate prayer-day event for the evening. 

At the noon prayer-day event for Christians only, Keller offered no apologies for closing the public prayer-day ceremony to non-Christians.

"They can do and say what they want," Keller said. "Anyone that wants to follow the devil and Judaism and all that, let them do it."

The preacher didn't stop there. He concluded the prayer-day festivities with a sermon advocating for organized prayer in public schools and deriding the public schools for teaching evolution and homosexuality, the Star reported.