Today — after its scheduled one week of display — a Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) banner reading “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” was removed from Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The banner was placed as a response to a National Day of Prayer banner overlooking Public Square and a corresponding prayer event in the same location. I delivered the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner to City Hall and was afforded with one week of display which was accompanied with interviews, press coverage, a strange statement delivered by Mayor of Wilkes-Barre Thomas Leighton, and more. Following is a recap of events.
May 24 – “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner was displayed on Public Square. I reported, detailed reasons why I contacted the FFRF and delivered the banner to City Hall, and reflected on vandalism of the 2012 FFRF holiday freethought banner on Public Square.
May 24 – The FFRF issued a release concerning the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner.
May 24 – I appeared on a local talkradio show to discuss the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner.
May 26 – Members of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Freethought Society, following a monthly meeting, posed under the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner.
May 26 – A Wilkes-Barre based newspaper, The Times Leader, published a article on the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner which included comments from an interview I had with a reporter. A great deal of discussion followed the article; close to 500 comments accompany the reporting.
May 31 – Thomas Leighton, the mayor of Wilkes-Barre, remarking on the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner, said, “We live in a free country; unfortunately everybody has the rights to whatever what they want to say.”
June 3 – Among other topics, I discussed the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner on the A-News podcast.
The $50 which was required for one week of display went quite a long way to inspire a discussion about the efficacy of prayer, challenge popular religious belief, send a message of freethought to freethinkers and religious individuals, alert freethinkers to the FFRF, and so much more.
Rather than simply blogging about disagreement with the National Day of Prayer and objections to prayer, I took initiative, protested a prayer event, respectfully challenged religious believers in face-to-face discussions, found religious individuals who support church/state separation, engaged with local media, and helped send a message of freethought to many who otherwise would not have been exposed to it. This atheist activism was highly successful and will not be my last.