Govs Asked to Balance “Day of Prayer”


“Thought you would be interested in knowing that we obtained a Mayoral Proclamation for the National Day of Reason, May 5, 2005.”–Harry Greenberger, La.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation asked all 50 U.S. governors to reconsider and balance gubernatorial actions proclaiming a “Day of Prayer.”

Under President Reagan, legislation was passed designating the first Thursday of every May as “National Day of Prayer.” Governors are not under any obligation, however, to “observe” it.

The religious right lobby, especially Focus on the Family, annually targets governors and local executives to proclaim a “Day of Prayer.” In the past, rare holdouts included Lowell Weicker, when he was governor of Connecticut, and Jesse Ventura, when he was governor of Minnesota.

“The public observance of a day of prayer is most distressing in a country founded on the principle of freedom of conscience,” wrote Foundation co-president Dan Barker to governors. “While reason tells us nothing fails like prayer, a church-sponsored day of prayer would not be a problem.

“Prayer proclamations by public officials convey to nonreligious Americans that we are expected to believe in a god, and in the suspension of the natural laws of the universe through wishful thinking.”

The Foundation sent governors sample copies of proposed secular proclamations, including a “Freethought Week,” and “Give Thanks for State/Church Separation. A simple “Day of Reason” would be very welcome:

“There have been many holidays for saints and superstition, but never one commemorating reason, freethought and state/church separation.”

The Foundation also reminded governors that 14% of the U.S. adult population is not religious, according to the definitive American Religious Identification Survey.

Freethinkers believe in deeds, not creeds, the governors were told. “The hands that help are better far than lips that pray,” as noted 19th century freethinker/attorney Robert G. Ingersoll wrote. Mark Twain advised that is better to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain.

Freethinkers may wish to contact their own local executives or governor to promote freethought proclamations.

Freedom From Religion Foundation