Saw this in a friend’s status update on facebook this morning:
No Observance of National Day of Prayer in the White House today? Really?
I had forgotten today was the National Day of Prayer, but I like to observe its counterpart, the National Day of Reason. So I posted that as my own status update. It was not meant as a snarky response, but something I would have posted anyway had I remembered on my own:
…is observing the National Day of Reason.
The next status update on this friend’s (the very same person who posted the first update) page read:
National Day of Reason? Wow! What is the big deal…Start you own day…lol. I choose to pray everyday so it really does not matter. It just seems silly to me. One Nation under God. Our Government could use a bit of prayer. God Bless our country.
So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter? Because in 1952, Congress passed into law this “National Day of Prayer,” despite the first amendment clause which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
I know, I know. The act establishing the National Day of Prayer doesn’t “establish” a new religion. But prayer is an establishment in a religious context, and it is not Congress’s place to pass into law any such support of religion.
The thing is, we are, indeed, one nation. That much is true. But we are one nation of many people, under many gods, and in a growing percentage of the population, under no god at all. So while this observance is certainly everyone’s right, it is exclusionary and improper for any branch of government to endorse it. I applaud the White House’s decision to not officially observe it, particularly considering the extremely evangelical emphasis the previous administration placed upon the day in years past.
The National Day of Reason is observed by people who believe that reason and rationality serve a greater purpose than prayer, and who believe that this country needs reason above prayer right now.
I don’t like being one of these people, but this is the only way I know how to say it right now. I’m offended. It is hypocritical to expect the White House – an administration leading a country of many cultures and ideas – to observe your particular culture’s values, but then to so flippantly dismiss another culture’s way of celebrating their own values. In no way in my update did I ask people to join me, although I would love it if they chose to do so. I simply and proudly stated what I would observe today.