Secularists counter National Day of Prayer with National Day of Reason

As millions of Americans bow their heads next Thursday (May 3) for the annual National Day of Prayer, atheists, humanists … Continued

As millions of Americans bow their heads next Thursday (May 3) for the annual National Day of Prayer, atheists, humanists and other nontheists will mark a day of their own.

The National Day of Reason — or “NDR” in the shorthand of the nontheist community — will also be held May 3, part protest, part celebration and totally godless.

“In times of great conflict and worry, people want to look to a higher power, and I am sympathetic to that,” said Paul Fidalgo, communications director at the Center for Inquiry. “But our day puts the focus back on people and what we can do for ourselves. We are trying to make a better world on our own by emphasizing good works and good deeds on the day.”

To that end, local groups of nontheists will hold blood drives (Groton, Conn.) training in lobbying politicians (Raleigh, N.C.) and voter registration drives (Flagstaff, Ariz.), as well as marches, rallies and social gatherings. One group in Putnam, Conn., is holding a “science for reason” book exchange — turn in a Bible and receive a free copy of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” among other titles.

NDR was started in 2003 by a Washington-based group of humanists who viewed government participation in the National Day of Prayer as a violation of the separation of church and state.

While the numbers participating in NDR have never equaled those of the National Day of Prayer, NDR supporters scored a victory in 2010 when a federal judge ruled that the 1988 law that designates the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional.

The victory was short-lived, as a higher court ruled in 2011 that government participation did not equal compulsory participation.

This year, while there are no pending legal challenges, nontheist groups would still like to see the National Day of Prayer become a strictly private holiday.

“We feel that having our chief elected officials proclaim a religious day to be a clear violation of the separation of church and state,” Fidalgo said. “Besides that, it is exclusionary not just for nonbelievers but to everyone who does not buy into monotheism.”

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  • SODDI

    I dunno. Those capital “A” atheists like to showboat, but that’s about it. There are more important issues than just mimicking some stupid and fascist national christian shindig.

    EVERY DAY should be reason day.

    Are we just “atheists” as a reactionariy opposition to the oppressive religious all around u?

    And why are they handing out Darwin instead of Bertrand Russell?

  • Ranmore

    Stand up and be proud – it’s time for America’s atheists to come out of the closet and challenge the scheming, money grabbing religious leaders who mire the country with bigotry and superstition.

  • WmarkW

    Fine to have a national day to celebrate reason.

    But reason is not the same thing as liberal and Democratic party politics.

    Some of us think it’s perfectly reasonable to reduce the size the government, and that giving our native-born low-skill population jobs takes precedence over those in the country illegally.