Last week, I saw a banner erected on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square recognizing the National Day of Prayer and promoting an upcoming “Circle the Square With Prayer” event — hosted by the National Day of Prayer Committee of NEPA — in which Northeastern Pennsylvanians will gather with false hope – that their perceived communication with an alleged deity who not only cares about human affairs, but also will engage in divine intervention responding to their particular local concerns while natural disasters created by the same alleged deity ravage humanity and animalkind.
While I do not like using the word ‘privilege,’ I find this quite fitting when considering a banner I had — with help of the Freedom From Religion Foundation — helped erect in response to religious displays on Public Square. Hours after my holiday freethought banner was lawfully erected by city workers, a pompous Christian had vandalized the banner and later appeared on television (see below) and talkradio to brag about his exploits.
The presumably ‘Christian banner’ will stand and, rather than vandalizing the banner, I will lawfully and peacefully protest the “Circle the Square With Prayer” event much unlike the Christian who vandalized my banner. See my protest signs here: http://www.justinvacula.com/2013/05/02/great-weather-for-a-protest/
Church and state should be kept separate
United States governments may not recognize an establishment of religion and thus have no legal or moral grounds to recognize an overtly religious National Day of Prayer. The Pennsylvania Constitution — to consider a state level — notes that “men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences” meaning, in part, that “no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience” and that “no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.”
Whether or not the National Day of Prayer or other government proclamations are unconstitutional, government should simply stay out of religion and focus on secular matters which are relevant to Americans regardless of their religious beliefs or lackthereof. The United States government has no business whatsoever suggesting that Americans “turn to God in prayer and meditation” as is suggested by the National Day of Prayer proclamation. Governments should not be telling or asking citizens to engage in religious activities.
Nothing fails like prayer
There is no compelling evidence to suggest that perceived communication with a deity translates into supernatural intervention. Extraordinary claims, after all, require extraordinary evidence and exemplary explanations. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and people of countless denominations have been praying for world peace, an end to natural disasters, and an end to wars while wars continue, hatred persists, earthquakes kill, and medical studies show that prayer may actually be associated with poorer health outcomes. Can you look around this world and believe in the goodness of a god who rules it?
When theists admit that prayer is merely communication and meditation after failing to provide extraordinary evidence and offer exemplary explanations, God — although he wants humans to come to believe in him — suddenly is said to remain hidden because free will is to be preserved and is allegedly violated if divine interventions were to occur. Theistic explanations enter the realm of the unfalsifiable while more stubborn and superstitious believers contend that God serves as a special car key detector.
The belief that prayer may translate to divine intervention is a blight not only on rational thought, but also on the human race – discouraging people to partake in verifiable result-generating action and convincing them that mere hoping and thinking will translate into divine intervention. In most extreme cases, Christians resort to prayer and forgo medical care while children die and are later ‘excused away’ because “God needed another angel” and had a “special plan.”
America doesn’t need more prayer. America needs more reason and skepticism of religious claims which are retarding humanity and promoting incredulity.
Tomorrow, from approximately 3:30PM to 7:00PM, I will be peacefully protesting the “Circle the Square with Prayer” event – a voice of reason in the wilderness with intentions to expose prayer, make a case for a secular government, and debate religious believers. Rather than resorting to vandalism, I will exercise my freedom of speech and welcome religious individuals to do the same. Check back for post-event reporting.
Let the best ideas win.
Hope is a desert running dry.
You refuse to face the facts,
But pray for life.
Find salvation in distress.
We will wait
For the day
You’ll break out and re-awake.