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Tom Smart, Deseret News
An opening prayer is given before a National Day of Prayer breakfast in South Jordan at which Gov. Gary Herbert spoke to business, religious and state leaders.

PROVO — Prayer was praised for its ability to bring people of varying faiths together in the annual National Day of Prayer commemoration Thursday.

Prayers were spoken and chanted, as about 200 people gathered at the Provo Tabernacle.

"A day of prayer is something spectacular because not everyone in the world has the freedom to talk about prayer, or to pray as they like," keynote speaker Lincoln Steed said.

Steed, editor of Freedom magazine, a publication of the Seventh Day Adventist Church dedicated to the separation of church and state, said about 70 percent of the people in the world live under religious restrictions.

"There is way too much religion in the world," Steed said. "What the world needs is spirituality. And that has everything to do with prayer. Prayer will unite us as an amalgamation of many people and many beliefs and backgrounds."

There were no protests at the event, just mild protestations about controversies surrounding the annual National Day of Prayer event.

"Religion has a special place in this country," Steed said, referring to a recent ruling by U.S District Judge Barbara Crab, who said the National Day of Prayer violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. "I'm no prophet, but I do prophesy that the Supreme Court, if asked, will support this National Day of Prayer."

Chaplain Linda Walton, who has chaired the event for the past 10 years, echoed the sentiments.

"I guess I just didn't get the memo," Walton said. "We don't have to agree on anything except that we believe in freedom of religion."

Referring to numerous Day of Prayer events sponsored by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which limits prayers to those from evangelical Christians, Caru Das of the Hari Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork said, "I have only recently learned that many of the National Day of Prayer services exclude non-Christians as well as Mormons. Thoughts have different ways."

Those offering prayers included Pastor Jim Powell of the CenterPoint Church; Gladyee Begay, who prayed in Navajo and English; Caru Das; and Tami Harris, a chaplain for the LDS Church.

The event was sponsored by the Utah Valley Ministerial Association and Utah Valley University Interfaith Student Association.

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com