National Prayer Day

What, nobody told me!  I just discovered that today is prayer day. A federal judge recently ruled it's unconstitutional to have a national day of prayer, but she stayed the decision and the Obama administration decided to preserve the tradition (for now).   I'd mind prayer day if it meant compulsory praying in schools, but that's because there would be a downside for non-religious students.  I remember being faced with praying as a 9-year-old going to a London school for 6 months, and I didn't like it one bit.  But I seem to have survived 3/4 of prayer day completely unscathed. That's because nobody says you have to pray on prayer day. They don't even come through the streets with bullhorns, leading the hoards in prayer.  Prayer day is pretty much like "plant a tree" day (surely we have one). That's just a day when people who want to plant trees get together and plant trees.  Now, it does say something when the government designates a day the day for X-ing.  The designation expresses approval for the activity, for which we reason we don't have infidelity day or truancy day.  But how bad is that?  The vast majority of people do something or other they call praying.  I promise to get upset about prayer day if somebody can just give me a good reason to get upset.  So far, I just don't see it.


rtk said...

The post above might say it all.???
Thinking aloud: The movement of the head, chin to chest, eyes down, I expect (no experience here) has the immediate effect of entering a state of goodness. Oh-oh. Whatever is muttered in that High Pure State comes with a belief in quite supreme approval of its content. Some ugly stuff has been the subject of prayer, without the safety measures of question and examination and ultimate rearrangement of possibly destructive wishes. Prayer on a wide scale sounds potentially threatening. Think Tea Party mass prayer.

rtk said...

The post above mine is dissolved, leaving my first sentence meaningless. It was Asian.

Ed said...

The statute establishing the day of prayer states that this is a day for people to "turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

The statute encourages and endorses religion. More specifically it endorses that subset of religions that worships a capital-g God in churches.

It's not something to get upset about. In the grand scheme of things there are far more significant issues requiring our attention. But I'm always happy to see that someone somewhere is standing up against violations of the first amendment, no matter how trivial they may seem.

Jason Streitfeld said...

It is upsetting if you take the separation of church and state seriously. A national day of prayer has no secular function. Thus, according to the US constitution, it should not be enacted by the US government.

Dan Barker makes the point well in a video here: http://www.newshounds.us/2010/05/09/dave_briggs_promotes_prayer_day_gets_schooled_by_dan_barker.php