(Washington, D.C., May 5, 2009) The federal government typically observes the National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of May–this year it will be held on May 7–and has done so since the Day of Prayer’s creation in 1952 by an act of Congress. However, increasing numbers of people every year are instead showing their support for the National Day of Reason, which is held in parallel to the National Day of Prayer as an inclusive–and constitutional–alternative, said the American Humanist Association today.
“Secular Americans understandably get exasperated each May when the federal government exhibits a complete disregard for the separation of church and state with its many National Day of Prayer observances,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The National Day of Reason is the nontheist’s response to this annual abuse of the U.S. Constitution. It’s for all those who value reason over dogma and expect their government to do the same.”
Each year on the National Day of Reason, events are held across the United States that often are geared towards raising the visibility of the secular community and to setting the right example for how to effect positive change. Local events may include a day of volunteer work, a charity event, or simple conversation designed to foster rational thought. “Above all else, we want to create a positive, inclusive experience for all people–regardless of religion or non-religion,” said Speckhardt.
Some religious advocacy groups have called on President Obama to declare that the National Day of Prayer is for all Americans–even nontheists. “Though urging the inclusion of everyone is certainly in the correct spirit, we don’t see how a National Day of Prayer could ever be inclusive of people who don’t believe in a god,” said David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. “Rather, we’d urge President Obama to instead endorse the National Day of Reason, thereby including all Americans and calling attention to a value that’s essential to effective democracy.”
The American Humanist Association along with the Washington Area Secular Humanists host a website for the National Day of Reason (http://www.nationaldayofreason.org/), where individuals can access a wealth of resources, including a listing of NDoR events in their area, facts and statistics regarding the National Day of Prayer, and essays on church-state separation.
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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.