The National Day of No Prayer

Today’s the day right-wing Christians have labeled a National Day of Prayer. Many government officials across the country will forget that there’s a separation of church and state and declare their religiosity and pander to the base like crazy.

To anyone who thinks this is legal, just read what President Obama’s proclamation might look like if all the sides were flipped and he were declaring it a National Day of No Prayer:

Throughout our history, whether in times of great joy and thanksgiving, or in times of great challenge and uncertainty, Americans have turned to prayer, and it unfortunately had no effect. In prayer, we have expressed gratitude and humility, sought guidance and forgiveness, and yet never received inspiration and assistance, both in good times and in bad.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of No Prayer. I call upon the citizens of our Nation to cease prayer, nor otherwise give thanks to any gods, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for it has done nothing to uphold and support our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in refusing to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection, as this has never helped in the past, and to instead work directly to meet the challenges before us.

Even though this sounds nice, it’s not what I want. It’s not Obama’s position to tell people whether to pray or not pray. And he should know that. As the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Annie Laurie Gaylor said, “He has taught constitutional law. He should know better.”

All atheists want is for government officials to keep their beliefs to themselves and not use their political spotlight to give religion any sort of special preference. That’s not asking a lot.

Enjoy the day, though. Celebrate a Day of Reason or a Day of Action, donate blood, volunteer — do something that’s actually productive. You’ll feel good that you did.

In case you are interested in celebrating the Day of Reason, Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association has a few suggestions:

Attend a National Day of Reason event. Events are being held by local groups across the country on and around May 6. Join fellow humanists and nontheists for lectures, peaceful demonstrations, socializing and more.

Don't see an event being held in your area? Organize your own National Day of Reason event, such as a letter-writing campaign urging your elected officials to support the separation of religion and government, a community service event, a press conference for your local media to promote respect for church/state separation, and more. Make sure to let us know so that we can put it on the NDR website!

Become an endorser of the National Day of Reason. Sign on and show your solidarity with the NDR's statement of principles, such as support for reason and the scientific method, and the opposition to the National Day of Prayer and other violations of separation of church and state.

Work to have a Day of Reason proclaimed by your state or local government. Use our sample proclamation or draft your own!

Spread the word! On the National Day of Reason homepage you'll find tools to share NDR with your friends and family, including through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networking sites. Retweet NDR using the tags @americnhumanist and #dayofreason.

Find more information about ways you can get involved on the National Day of Reason website.


  • Ubi Dubium

    You forgot one thing: donate blood.

    Do something that actually helps another human being, instead of asking an imaginary sky-fairy to fix everything.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    I wrote an article the other day about the National Day or Prayer and also the issue the call for a National Day of Masturbation. I hope people will check it out: National day of prayer and masturbation
    -Staks

  • Ubi Dubium

    Edit – Sorry, that should have been “Roy forgot one thing”

  • Bob

    Doesn’t a National Day of Prayer constitute the very definition of ‘praying in public like the hypocrites do’ (Matthew)?

  • Trace

    “All tests showed that the same rate of achieving goals was reached with each method so one can conclude that masturbating is just as effective as praying”

    you soulless atheists!

  • Roger Powell

    If churches were honest, they would register their prayers in a log book and monitor the progress of their results.

    Does anyone (inside or outside the religious community) ever actually analyse the Day of Prayer by finding out: (a) what was prayed for; how many churches prayed for it; how many people prayed for it; (b) which particular god did they pray to; and (c) what was the noticable effect that this nationally orchestrated effort of mega-praying had on us?

    For instance, how many millions of people, in how many thousands of churches, all over the US prayed for world peace? How many prayed for the total elimination of cancer?

    What was the observable effect? Was world peace granted by ‘god’? If cancer was not eradicated overnight, then by what lesser amount did god reduce it by and how many hospital oncology departments had to close as a result?

    Is there any reason why these matters should not be subject to fair and honest scrutiny? Accountants get their books audited and it should be the same for churches that make such astonishing claims.

    It would be a wonderful way for them to prove that prayer power really works, wouldn’t it?

  • Bob

    @DangerousTalk:

    “That’s one small step for Onan, one giant leap for mankind …”

  • Sackbut

    I’ve seen articles and commentary claiming the lawsuit and ruling about NDP galvanized believers, because “nothing makes people want to do something more than telling them they CANNOT do it.” Sigh. It’s ridiculous, but people are taking the ruling against NDP precisely as if it were the parody resolution referred to in this blog post.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    In MN, we’re gathering at the state Capitol at noon in the Rotunda for our Day of Reason event. Anyone is welcome to join us if they can. The more people we get the stronger message we give.

    http://www.meetup.com/Twin-Cities-Atheists/calendar/13262638/

  • beckster

    How long will it take for some dumbass to come across the fake Obama speech, think it is real, and send it out as chain mail to all their friends and family? I am sure it will end up in my e-mail box from crazy family member with the subject line: Proof that Obama is NOT CHRISTIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Richard Brum

    Beckster you are precisely correct, and I expect to see that happen any day now. Of course, people claim he’s Muslim, not Atheist, but that still won’t stop the idiotic nutjobs.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    “He has taught constitutional law. He should know better.”

    But he is also a politician. I think he does know better, but choses not to act. I have no expectations that our current political system will or even could produce a politician who would go against popular opinion, or even perceived popular opinion.

    we as atheist should ask that the national day of prayer, pray for something specific and quantifiable. That way we can ask for the results. We can have different groups pray on different days, in a tournament of sorts, kind of like a may madness. After a couple of years, we’ll have a pretty good idea of which is the most efficient god to pray to. I’m putting my money down of FSM

    <a hre

  • John

    I vote for standing with a picket sign outside these public displays, that says simply “Matthew 6:5″ (the verse that commands PRAYING IN THE CLOSET-where it BELONGS!). THen burning a bible! ;)

  • Miko

    The standard assumption is that Obama learned constitutional law because he cares about what the Constitution says. I think a more accurate explanation would be that Obama learned constitutional law so that he’d be most effective in finding ways of subverting its meaning.

  • muggle

    Think they will ever get that not promoting their religion is the neutral position, that to be hostile to it, would be to proclaim no god or a different supreme being?

  • Jamie

    That’s like there being a “National day of playing golf” and a “National day of not playing golf.” Just because you don’t play golf doesn’t mean you need a reserved day to boast. That’s like the kid who doesn’t get a present on his brother’s birthday, and throws a rotten fit.

    Atheists take religion way too personally. If you choose not to participate…then leave it at that! You don’t want Christians to attack you for not believing, do you? Well just the same, it’s unnecessary to attack us FOR believing.

    It’s one thing to be a theist or an atheist, but in a whole different catogory is whether you’re a decent person, or a shitty person. I’ve met good-hearted and shitty of both. And raining on someone’s parade just because you’re unincluded by CHOICE….well…that just makes you a shitty person.

    Keep in mind…being a shitty person is a choice.

    God bless.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    That’s like there being a “National day of playing golf” and a “National day of not playing golf.” Just because you don’t play golf doesn’t mean you need a reserved day to boast. That’s like the kid who doesn’t get a present on his brother’s birthday, and throws a rotten fit.

    Jamie, religion is not golf. There is no separation of golf and state. If you want to have a privately-endorsed National Day of Prayer, go for it! You certainly won’t see me throwing a “rotten fit.” The problem is when the government gets involved. It is not the place of the United States government to tell Americans to engage in specifically religious activities. By declaring a National Day of Prayer, they are encouraging prayer to a specific deity from a specific religion. Let’s not kid ourselves about that.

    Atheists take religion way too personally. If you choose not to participate…then leave it at that! You don’t want Christians to attack you for not believing, do you? Well just the same, it’s unnecessary to attack us FOR believing.

    You don’t get it. No one is attacking you. You are free to pray on your own and free to pray anywhere you want to pray. We are simply saying that the government cannot endorse or promote your prayer. That’s not too hard to understand, is it? It’s not okay for the government to do that, and you’re not being attacked because you’re no longer getting special favors or special consideration from the government. Please reconsider your persecution complex here.


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