To unify in prayer, Eureka city representatives will host a local event Thursday at noon in support of National Day of Prayer. Eureka's proclamation for the observance cites the need to pray so that residents and community leaders can more fearlessly face uncertain times.
National Day of Prayer is not a public holiday. Schools, post offices, stores and other businesses and organizations are open as usual.
This year's theme is "One Nation Under God." Ward 1 Board of alderman Bob Berry said the phrase/theme was one championed by the Knights of Columbus.
In 1775 the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.
The National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force, with the intended purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer. According to the Legal Information Institute, the President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.
An Alternative View
Two groups that represent a large percentage of atheists, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition of America, are hosting a different event—the National Day of Reason—to counter the National Day of Prayer, as reported by The Christian Post.
Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, sponsored a proclamation for the second year in a row giving his support to the alternative for atheist Americans to celebrate "reason," as opposed to prayer, indicated The Christian Post's article. Stark's proclamation reads in part:
"Our nation faces many problems – bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, creating jobs, educating our children, and protecting our safety net from irresponsible cuts. We will solve these issues through the application of reason. We must also protect women's reproductive choices, the integrity of scientific research, and our public education system from those who would hide behind religious dogma to undermine them."