Fed up with the annual government-sponsored National Day of Prayer? Indignant that your president, your governor, perhaps even your mayor, county executive . . . and dogcatcher, are exhorting you to pray, to set aside an entire day for prayer? Congress has designated the first Thursday in May "as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."
Join the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a Facebook rebellion! Choose one of FFRF’s two anti-National Day of Prayer graphic banners as your cover photo this week for your Facebook timeline page (the latest version of Facebook, a large horizontal image of your choice).
FFRF is providing two different graphics — its popular new “God Fixation Won’t Fix This Nation” and its red-white-and-blue admonition to pious politicians to “Get off your knees and get to work!”
For those who want something timeless (or to use after May 3’s prayerful violation), FFRF is also launching its “This is what an atheist looks like” to use with your timeline cover. (Check back with Facebook for variations using your favorite freethought appellations.)
Go to FFRF’s Facebook page to save the graphic and place it on your own page. Let’s have a secular Facebook revolution!
FFRF won a historic federal court decision declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional in 2010.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb memorably ruled in FFRF’s favor that a president does not have the right under our secular constitution to issue a day of prayer, “any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rule magic.” She added: “The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.”
“In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual’s decision about whether and how to worship.”
An appeals court in 2011 held that FFRF and its member plaintiffs had no standing to continue the national lawsuit. Notably, the challenge was not thrown out on its merits.
Meanwhile, FFRF is pursuing two challenges of gubernatorial prayer proclamations at the state level, in Colorado and in Arizona. Its staff attorneys are already fielding many requests for help in stopping mayors from sponsoring National Day of Prayer-related prayer breakfasts in their official capacities, and other related day of prayer violations.
The National Day of Prayer continues to fuel religious divisiveness involving evangelical Christian-only events involving public officials, often on public property, which do not allow other religious adherents to participate, placing the government’s stamp of approval on the Focus on the Family-housed National Day of Prayer Taskforce, which essentially has co-opted the annual event establishing religion. FFRF sent a strong letter of complaint to the mayor of Tampa on Friday chiding him for his participation in a blatantly sectarian and exclusionary event scheduled for Thursday.
FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with more than 18,000 members nationwide, and works as a state/church watchdog.