Group wants Department of Defense to withdraw from National Day of Prayer event

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The Department of Defense's planned participation in the upcoming National Day of Prayer on May 1 is being protested by a watchdog group.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) wrote a letter to the military and the White House, asking that soldiers not be used in the Capitol Hill events.

"The planned participation by uniformed U.S. military personnel in this private fundamentalist Christian religious event, run by a non-federal entity, is an unequivocally clear violation of [a] plethora of DoD regulations and instructions," MRFF Director Mikey Weinstein wrote.

In the letter, he "respectfully demands that [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] aggressively investigate and appropriately punish any of the individuals and/or organizations that would have allowed for uniformed personnel to participate in this sectarian spectacle."

This is not the first time that MRFF has protested the National Day of Prayer.

The group protested Rev. Franklin Graham's participation in the 2010 event, citing his "extreme religious views."

According to the Army Times, the military withdrew Rev. Graham's invitation because of alleged controversial statements he made about Islam.

2014 National Observance of the National Day of Prayer events include the Pledge of Allegiance, a scripture reading, several prayers, military remarks, a military band, and the military's color guard. There will also be several speakers, including Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder Vonette Bright, and both Shirley and James Dobson, founders of Focus on the Family.

Shirley Dobson is also Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is organizing prayer meetings across the country, and broadcasting the National Observance.

On the National Day of Prayer, churches, community organizations, and neighborhoods across the country unite to intercede on behalf of our nation's leaders.

The Day "stands as a call for us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people," the National Day of Prayer's Task Force website states.

All faiths are invited to participate in the annual observance, which was signed into law in 1952.

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