Christians mark National Day of Prayer, atheists host National Day of Reason

WASHINGTON — Americans marked the National Day of Prayer Thursday (May 3), with Christians gathering on Capitol Hill to defend … Continued

WASHINGTON — Americans marked the National Day of Prayer Thursday (May 3), with Christians gathering on Capitol Hill to defend their right to pray as nonbelievers observed a “Day of Reason.”

Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and the chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said the total of 40,000 observances across the U.S. for the National Day of Prayer “belies the fact of many skeptics saying that citizens in our nation no longer believe in prayer.”

The American Humanist Association used Thursday to mark the National Day of Reason, and encouraged atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers to give blood or participate in counter demonstrations.

The annual observance on Capitol Hill featured more than three hours of worship and prayer for the nation’s leaders and the military. But when it came time to pray for the executive branch, Bishop Harry Jackson, a Maryland megachurch pastor, critiqued the Obama administration for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act and urged prayer for “clarity of mission.”

The White House did not send a representative to speak at the gathering, but as has been his practice, President Obama issued a proclamation to mark the prayer day.

“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,” Obama said in his proclamation of the day, which was enacted into law in 1952.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, said the president celebrates “prayer and faith through events like his recent Easter Prayer Breakfast” and “prays daily and deeply appreciates the important role that prayer plays in the lives of millions of Americans.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.


Adelle M. Banks | Religion News Service Adelle M. Banks is a production editor and national correspondent at RNS.
  • plattitudes

    I love how many “National Day of X” have been declared lately. We used to get such days declared by Congress, but now it seems like there’s another one every other day– National Day of Pancakes, National Day of Redwood Trees, maybe I’ll declare tomorrow to be National Day of Star Trek and celebrate by a Next Gen Marathon at my place.

  • QuQuine

    This was unconstitutional when instituted in 1952 and remains unconstitutional today. I would like the churches to wake up and understand that their freedom is protected by keeping government out of religion.

Read More Articles

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.