National Day of Prayer protest in local newspaper

Protesting 2014 Circle the Square With Prayer event recognizing the government-sanctioned National Day of Prayer (front of sign)
Protesting 2014 Circle the Square With Prayer event recognizing the government-sanctioned National Day of Prayer (front of sign)

My protest of a National Day of Prayer event was mentioned in an April 2, 2014 Citizens’ Voice article.

The Citizens’ Voice — a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania based newspaper — published an article titled “People express different views during ‘Circle the Square With Prayer’ in W-B” which mentions my recent protest of an event recognizing the government-sanctioned National Day of Prayer. [See my protest’s press release issued through the NEPA Freethought Society and my responses to criticisms following the press release.]

Staff writer Bill Wellock who published an excellent, fair, and thorough article about me titled “Exeter man seeks freedom from religion” in late 2012 asked me several questions relating to my protest.

I also spoke with Wellock about Mayor of Wilkes-Barre Thomas Leighton’s reaction to the Freedom From Religion Foundation ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ banner’s display in 2013 — particularly “We live in a free country. Unfortunately, everyone has the rights to say whatever what they want to say (source)” — government-led Judeo-Christian prayer at city council meetings I objected to, the banned hanging three days late, and City Hall’s closing “in observance of Good Friday.” We also spoke about the unprominent display of the ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ this year (more on this in a post to be authored April 2, 2014).frontsign

Discussion is brewing in the comment section of the article (there are 47 comments as of this evening of May 2, 2014) allowing for open discussion of my response to the government-sanctioned day of prayer.

Although the article did not include some of the above linked information I spoke with Wellock about — which is understandable since the article focused on the event itself and not my opposition to it — Wellock writes,

Public Square saw representatives of a different viewpoint as well. Justin Vacula and Rodney Collins, members of NEPA Freethought Society, protested the event because the day of prayer is a government endorsement of religion, Vacula said.

“Government should not become involved with religion. Government officials have no business asking citizens to pray or to participate in religious activities,” he said.

A picture caption from the article reads,

Christian event attendees look on unhappily at church and state separation activist Justin Vacula as he protests the ‘Circle the Square with Prayer’ in Wilkes-Barre.

Stay tuned for future updates on this website concerning my thoughts and experiences surrounding the events of May 1, 2014 — the day of my protesting the Circle the Square With Prayer event — including my thoughts on the unprominent display of the FFRF banner (previously mentioned), discussions I had with a pastor — Michael Brewster whom I debated in 2013 — leading the event, discussions I had with religious attendees, future discussions with pastors, and a video of a man praying for me. At least one new piece will be released on this website on May 3, 2014. A large volume of content is to come.

As always, feel free to comment below. Consider also commenting on the newspaper article itself.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia.

He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events.

Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.