May 3rd 2007 will once again mark the
"National Day of Prayer", when groups all across America will have prayer events. In Austin, a group will be having a Bible read-a-thon at the Texas State Capitol.
Atheists have a witticism that "Nothing Fails Like Prayer". Indeed, a little thought would lead you to this conclusion.
Well conducted scientific prayer
studies have born it out. With so much ado about nothing, there must be more than meets the eye.
The answer, of course, is that while the event is billed as National and ecumenical, it is really just
conservative Christians promoting Christianity. And regardless of the religion it promotes, it's clearly an establishment of religion, prohibited by the establishment clause of the first Amendment of the US Constitution. As with our "In God We Trust" motto, the National Day of Prayer was created during the 1950s McCarthy communism scare. We can make no sense of destroying one's country from within by way of some ill-thought emotional panic to a perceived external threat. With luck, these wrongs will be righted someday.
We in the Atheist Community of Austin are avid advocates of church-state separation. Atheists in general know that, "The hands that help are better far Than lips that pray." (Robert Green Ingersoll, 1889). In response to the National Day of Prayer, for example, the Center
for Atheism is advocating donating blood on that day and election day. They are calling the initiative the Gift to Life Day. We feel that efforts like this and the National Day of Reason are far better things to participate in on May 3rd. Of course, members of the Atheist Community of Austin have participated in blood drives for a while now and we will continue to do so, regardless of prayer events.