Political and religious leaders joined together today for an interfaith service at the National Cathedral and vowed to fight terrorism.
President Bush told Americans to continue relying on prayer to "help us last through the day or endure the night" in the wake of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear," Bush said. "To answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder."
Muslim Cleric Joins Service
In a ceremony punctuated by prayer and patriotism, the congregants wept and hugged as "God Bless America" and hymns rang through the cathedral. Bush was joined by his father, former President Bush, and former Presidents Clinton, Carter and Ford, as well as members of Congress and Cabinet members.
Religious leaders of all faiths took the pulpit for prayer, including a Muslim imam, Muzammil Siddiqi, who offered prayers and verses from the Koran. Arab-Americans and Muslims have been targets of revenge assaults, despite pleas by political leaders who have urged against such prejudices.
Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman, rabbi emeritus of Washington's Hebrew congregation, called for peace.
"We as Americans reaffirm our faith and our hope that security and peace will be fully restored in our country," he said. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His steadfastness never comes to an end."
Among those leading the congregation in prayer was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington. His nephew, Michael Lynch, is among the firefighters still missing amid the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.
The Rev. Billy Graham, who has been struggling with Parkinson's disease, delivered a sermon.
"We come together today to re-affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be," said Graham. "We are facing a new kind of enemy. We are involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the spirit of God."
Americans face a choice of whether to "implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a nation, or choose to become stronger," Graham said.
Today, declared a national day of prayer and rememberance, was maked by services across the country, including at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Falwell Lashes Out Against ACLU
Though religion has served to unify much of America in the days since the attack, one religious leader has ignited some controversy with his remarks.
On Thursday, Rev. Jerry Falwell said that spiritual weakness left the United States exposed to Tuesday's terrorist attacks. He pinned the blame for that weakness on the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the federal courts that banned school prayer and legalized abortion.
Speaking on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club, a religious television program, Falwell said: "The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this — and I know that I'll hear from them for this, but — throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools."
Falwell later told the media that he did not mean to shift actual blame from the terrorists.