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.