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The National Day of Reason - Unbeliever's Land
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The National Day of Reason
The United States government has proclaimed a "National Day of Prayer", to be held annually on the first Thursday of May.

Unlike other national day/week/month proclamations, this is not about raising awareness for a small, under-appreciated group of people. By most counts, around 90% of the country is religious in some form or another.

A formal Day of Prayer, then, is a government-sponsored opportunity for 90% of the country to join hands together and think positive thoughts -- and illegally promote religion over non-religion, alienating and marginalizing the remaining 10% of American citizens.

In racial terms, the equivalent would be a "National Day of White People" -- except that white people dominate our society to a much smaller extent than do religious people.

The response of the freethought community has been to repurpose the same day, declaring it to be a "National Day of Reason". Note that the United States government has shown no interest in endorsing THIS declaration.

My humanist/freethought group, Corvallis Secular Society, is celebrating the day by sponsoring a showing of "The Root of all Evil?", a British television documentary never broadcast in this country, in which Richard Dawkins points out the negative and detrimental effects of religion on culture. This free event will be held tonight in the Corvallis Public Library, from 7-9pm. If anyone is interested, feel free to stop on by. We promise not to take offense at opposing viewpoints, if you feel like discussing them after the film... ;)

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From: (Anonymous) Date: May 4th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Please don't be offended

I was part of a NDP observance and everyone was welcome to join the group without respect to religious affiliation. Yes, we prayed. Yes we affirmed the belief in the Bible, it's God, and Jesus Christ. Thankfully no one was forced or coerced into attending. It was a peaceful "rally" (ooo, I strongly dislike that word) if you want to call it that.

I would politely take issue with your comparison to a "National White people day." Freedom of religion gives everyone a choice on how to worship or how not to. Being born with any skin color is not a choice.

Finally, I'm sorry that you are offended that we prayed today and that the government provided a special day for this. If NDP people received funds, well, I wish they didn't. Christ-followers are supposed to pray for everyone without the "incentive."

unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: May 4th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Please don't be offended

Firstly, I am never offended when people pray. I am offended when I am made an "outsider" by my choice not to pray. A "National Day of Prayer" is precisely the sort of thing the government should not be doing:

1) Promoting religion over non-religion.

2) Promoting the cultural majority over a cultural minority.

If the government had nothing to do with it, a church-sponsored "National Day of Prayer" wouldn't bother me in the least. What churches do is none of my concern -- until they try to dictate MY behavior through the government and the court system.

You're right that it's not quite "National White People Day". If we were to presume the right-wingers were right about sexuality being a choice, it would be closer to a "National Straight People Day".

Then again, one COULD argue that most atheists really don't feel a "choice" about believing something we find silly. Could you "choose" to believe the world was flat, despite NASA photos and the full weight of scientific knowledge?

Belief in "God" is really that silly -- as far as I'm concerned. I don't mean to be offensive (and I take no offense at your comments; you were perfectly polite), but seriously, we get over Santa by the time we're eight. What is the difference between Santa and God, aside from REALLY STRONG CULTURAL PRESSURE in favor of the latter?

Thanks for the comments...
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 4th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)

I am confused by something...

I just left a comment on your blog a few minutes ago. After posting, I noticed your fave quote: give a man a fish...give a man religion and he'll starve praying....

This teaching is absolutely counter to the teaching of the bible. In fact, it says that if a man is unwilling to work, he should not eat. This statement was made to refute certain 1st century people who had quit working to wait on the return of the Lord.

So, the quote should more correctly read: give a man religion and he should work his butt off to make a living so he and his family should eat. And if he doesn't work, he'll starve.

Does that make sense?
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: May 4th, 2007 08:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I am confused by something...

First off, let's remember that "religion" encompasses a great deal more than just "Christianity". There are lots of religions in the world today -- and many more, if we look at all the religions mankind USED to take seriously, but no longer practices.

[And what makes YOUR religion different? In another 2000 years, are you SURE humans won't be scratching their heads, puzzling over the ancient belief in "Jesus", as they march off to worship some three-headed Lizard God? The Roman Empire took Zeus and company pretty seriously, you know...]

What religions tend to have in common, is belief in one or more supernatural beings -- and usually, said beings can be persuaded to action by means of prayer, sacrifice of animals, dancing, whatever. What's the point of prayer if you're not trying to persuade God to do something?

So the intent of the quote is simply to point out that "prayer won't do you a damn bit of good" -- and it sounds like you're sorta saying the same thing. Humans have to solve their own problems, without relying on supernatural solutions, right? I think we agree on something! :)

[I've always been highly amused by the line, "God helps those who help themselves". To me, this says, God won't do a thing to help -- but he's happy to take the credit once you've done all the work. Which is precisely the same behavior you'd expect if "God" was entirely mythical...] :)

I'm not sure how belief in a magical deity is supposed to make people MORE self-reliant... Wouldn't the LACK of supernatural crutches better accomplish that purpose?

For that matter, I have *ALSO* never understood how Christians (who by their own statements, believe that humans cannot possibly behave morally without threats of eternal punishment from God), could possibly be considered more "moral" than atheists, who somehow manage to avoid raping and killing WITHOUT the fear of holy retribution... but that's an argument for another day. :)

Thanks again for your comments... :)
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