- Washington Post: “Christians Mark National Day of Prayer, Atheists Host National Day of Reason”
- Religion News: “Secularists counter National Day of Prayer with National Day of Reason”
That message from the Creator God urging people to acknowledge their rebellion against Him rings as true today as when He delivered it through the prophet Isaiah around 2,700 years ago. And with that call to reason came a message of hope through Jesus Christ, whose coming and crucifixion Isaiah was also privileged to prophesy. The verse continues, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
From God’s point of view, it is reasonable for human beings to recognize their limitations and their sin. It is reasonable for humans to accept God’s grace and be reconciled with Him. God made humans in His image, and they are therefore able to reason. But ever since Adam reasoned that he could challenge His Creator and build a better world his own way, human reasoning has been severely corrupted and has continued along the same rebellious line.
We are trying to make a better world on our own by emphasizing good works and good deeds on the day.
The National Day of Reason (NDR), proclaimed by the American Humanist Association in protest of the National Day of Prayer, thus provides a picture of 6,000 years of human history. “Our day puts the focus back on people and what we can do for ourselves,” said spokesman Paul Fidalgo. “We are trying to make a better world on our own by emphasizing good works and good deeds on the day” (emphasis ours).
Those good works included blood drives, training sessions on how to lobby politicians, voter registration drives, and the “opportunity” to trade Bibles for copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species. We would note, however, the curious standards by which these “reasoning” skeptics determine what is “good.” In this case, “good works” included blood donation, which, while generous, philanthropic, and generally good for other people, is counterproductive to ultimate human evolution. After all, blood might be used to promote survival and subsequent procreation by “weaker” members of the human race. Lobbyist training and voter registration drives, while possibly open to all comers, would surely more freely benefit those of like-mind. Therefore, those “good works” are self-serving. And swapping out Bibles for Darwinian writ likewise promotes only the humanistic point of view.
Indeed, without a standard for “good” from beyond man, each person decides for himself what is “good.” God’s Word, however, says that even “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15). God, as Creator of all, is the one with the authority to determine what is truly good. Furthermore, even the human ability to reason is a gift from our Creator, not an evolved attribute. And so is the freedom to use that reason to rebel against the God who created us.
The rich tradition of the National Day of Prayer echoes the call by Benjamin Franklin during the constitutional convention to pray for God’s help and a prior call by the 1775 Continental Congress asking people to pray for them to have God’s wisdom as they shaped this nation. The National Day of Prayer officially originated in 1952 when democratically elected officials chosen by the American people, led by President Harry S. Truman, declared it would be held annually. More elected officials later passed legislation ratifying that decision by designating the first Thursday of May to be the National Day of Prayer.1 President Obama issued his proclamation for May 3, saying,
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience.
The National Day of Prayer, though briefly de-railed in 2010 when a judge declared it to be a violation of separation of church and state, was restored in 2011 when that ruling was overturned by a judiciary rightly recognizing that nothing about the law concerning the day compels anyone to participate and thus does not violate anybody’s First Amendment rights.
As part of the National Day of Prayer observance, Americans are encouraged by private groups such as the National Day of Prayer Task Force to pray for our government leaders. Scripture directs Christians to pray for “all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). As 40,000 groups gathered around the country to pray, many prayed for our leaders to have wisdom. Since the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10 ), it is appropriate that mega-church pastor Harry Jackson, during a gathering at Capitol Hill, after critiquing the present administration’s failure to defend existing federal laws restricting same-sex marriage, urged people to pray for the president to have “clarity of mission.” In light of the president’s three previous official proclamations for June 2009,2 2010,3 and 20114 to be Gay Pride month and this week’s statement endorsing same-sex marriage,5 those prayers are even more urgently needed.
Historically, our Founding Fathers, operating on Christian principles and led by Christians such as James Madison, put in place a written guarantee that all Americans would have the freedom to choose how and whether to worship without compulsion by the federal government. So perhaps if those who choose not to gather in prayer don’t want to thank God for their freedom, they should at least consider being thankful for the Christian principles used by the Founding Father to support freedom of conscience that guarantee citizens’ rights to protest and reason as they choose.
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