Some might argue there is nothing wrong with people of faith gathering in solidarity to pray on a particular day. They are right! There isn't.
Nor is there anything wrong with our nation having a collective moment of silence in memory of our fallen heros or with a Christian President (regardless of denomination) calling on Americans to pray for their country in times of great tragedy.
Some would then even argue there is nothing wrong with a congressionally-mandated, federally supported National Day of Prayer.
But, but, but...a little prayer can't hurt nobody!
Yes it can.
When it violates the First Amendment and allows the government to promote a certain manifestation of religion, it hurts us all.
While the National Day of Prayer Task Force, led fundamentalist Christian Shirley Dobson, concedes that the observance was proclaimed and "offered to all Americans, regardless of religion, to celebrate their faith through prayer," it admits that "the efforts of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with Judeo-Christian beliefs."
This year's theme "One Voice, United in Prayer" embodies the religious right's exclusionary contempt for all other faiths, and their ongoing attempt to ideologically brand the United States a "Christian" country and exposes its blatant intent to recast the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as mere codicils to Old Testament biblical law. Given the opportunity, they will elevate their God and religion over all government and their fellow citizens. They say so themselves.
According to the National Day of Prayer website, this year's theme:
[E]mphasizes the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.
To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen Romans 15:6 as our Scripture for this year:
So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The National Day of Prayer emphasizes only one form of religious practice, and therefore discriminates against the many others and encourages federal and local government entities to set aside tax dollar supported time and space to engage in religious ceremonies. This results in unconstitutional governmental support of the Christian religion over other religions, and no religion at all.
The Supreme Court has made it clear that state sponsored prayer in school is inappropriately exclusionary. So, why is a nationally sponsored day of prayer any more inclusive? This national effort geared toward a small slice of the religious spectrum is clearly outside the boundaries of proper governmental reach.
A congressionally sanctioned day supporting religion and prayer is hardly necessary. The religious don’t need to be reminded by government to do so on a particular day. Government has no business at all saying when or what Americans should do when and if they engage in religious practice. Religious Americans who wish to pray—do.
No. this country has no lack of prayer. What we lack, is reason .Now, more than ever,
America needs a Day of Reason.
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association and Huffington Post blogger says:
With the religious right’s influence in Congress, and with the threat to our Judiciary looming large, there has never been as important a moment in which to affirm our commitment to the Constitutional separation of religion and government, and to celebrate Reason as the guiding principle of our secular democracy.
He further points out that during the past few years "we have witnessed the intrusion of religious ideology into all spheres of our government, with such assaults on the wall separating church and state" as:
- Faith-based initiatives in federal agencies that give preferential treatment to religious organizations which proselytize and employ discriminatory hiring practices
- Restrictions on important scientific research on the basis of religious objections
- Attempts to introduce biblical creationism and its alter-ego “Intelligent Design” into our public school science curricula
- The appointment of judges who willingly place their religious beliefs above our laws
- Battles over the display of the Ten Commandments and other overtly religious icons in schools and on courthouses
- Religiously motivated restrictions on access to reproductive services and information
- City, state and federal level politicians have introduced legislation declaring "Christianity" the recognized religion and the bible to be the official book of the land (locality).
- State legislation that legalizes the discrimination of others based on religious beliefs.
The time has never been better to choose and support Reason over Religion.
Though not yet federally recognized, many states and cities have issued proclamations to build awareness for this important cause.
Show your support by attending an event supporting Reason, by signing a petition, encourage your own town to issue a proclamation, or change your Facebook profile and cover picture for the day.
As a nation it is time that we insist that out domestic laws and foreign policy be based on reason—not religion. It is time we rely on science before prayer to cure disease (while still being able to accept and appreciate prayer in the spirit it is given). It is time that women are given the autonomy to make decisions about their own healthcare and reproductive rights based on scientific fact—not ancient myths and religious dogma. It is time that the religious right stop screaming persecution because other Americans want their children to learn biology, history, and civics from textbooks—not the bible.
It is time to take religion out of our schools and our government and put it back where it belongs—in our home and in the church of our choice.
It's just time.