This year’s presidential proclamation of a National Day of Prayer was notable in its mention of the desire of a growing number of Americans not to pray:
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience.
Of course it then goes on to list all of the wonderful things we should do in our prayers and turns into a mish-mash naming “those who are sick, mourning, or without hope” and saluting our service people (who certainly deserve a heckuva lot more than our prayers).
The biggest Humanistic response to the National Day of Prayer (or abstention therefrom) is the National Day of Reason, a worthy effort to be sure. Yet it should not be the only one.
My colleague, Rabbi Adam Chalom, has come up with another alternative to the National Day of Prayer:
I have a better idea than a “National Day of Reason.” While reason is certainly a worthy value to celebrate, the secular counterpart to “Prayer” is not “Reason;” it is “Action.” Where the more religious would pray to solve a problem, Humanists know they must #choosetoACT to make a difference. If the event were a “National Day of Doing Good,” where those who wanted to pray could pray, and those who preferred to do good deeds could do that, then it would truly be an opportunity for everyone to participate in uplifting our nation.
Our national prayer-a-palooza falls on May 2. If that’s your thing, I wish you well. The rest of us – the abstainers – might want to do something a little more practical.
So find a cause. Any needy person or organization will fit the bill. Then #choosetoACT and use that hashtag somewhere on Facebook or wherever you share to let others know what we’re doing.