Foundation Beyond Belief Asks Humanists: Choose to Act in April

Foundation Beyond Belief is organizing a Week of Action from April 24th-30th, the week leading up to the National Day of Prayer and National Day of Reason on May 1st, to encourage people to #choosetoACT. The Week of Action initiative was started by Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom in 2010 as a single day of good deeds in response to the National Day of Prayer and National Day of Reason. Week of Action is new a way to come together regardless of beliefs to benefit local communities and to show what we can accomplish when we choose to act.

The National Day of Prayer is an annual event designated by the United States Congress that requires the president to make a proclamation that encourages people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Even though the president’s proclamations have used language that acknowledges non-Christian religious groups (unlike Congress’s choice of the words “God” and “churches”), the Day of Prayer cannot possibly be an inclusive event.

In 2012, President Obama obliquely referenced non-believers by 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” [emphasis added], but the National Day of Prayer remains far from inclusive. Welcoming nonbelievers to abstain (i.e., not participate) is not including them. Additionally, this event alienates more people every year, as an increasingly large proportion of the US population does not identify with religion (about 20%, most of whom do not affiliate with a church) or are explicitly atheist or agnostic (2.4% and 3.3%, respectively).

Foundation Beyond Belief is urging all humanists to do at least one good deed during Week of Action. The actions can be large or small, with groups or as individuals, and benefitting entire communities or a single person. Groups or individuals who are organizing an event that others can attend should register them on the Week of Action website. Plans or ideas for good deeds, summaries of Week of Action activities, and pictures can be posted on Facebook. Humanists can also tweet about their plans and deeds @weekofaction using the hashtag #choosetoACT. Interfaith activities (i.e., those that include believers and nonbelievers) are also encouraged to fight the exclusivity that the National Day of Prayer represents.

Events currently registered on the Week of Action website include community cleanups in Chicago, IL, Allentown, PA, and Providence, RI. Harvard Humanists are holding their first meal packing event at their brand-new Humanist Hub community center during Week of Action, and events fighting hunger are also being held in Columbus, OH and Santa Fe, NM. Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless are holding their monthly giveaway of toiletries and the Southern Maryland Secular Humanists are joining in a yearly county-wide effort to provide free home and facility repairs to needy residents and non-profit organizations in St. Mary’s County, MD.

If you or your group would like to participate, start planning your good deeds now and register here if others can attend your events. Be sure to promote your actions using the hashtag #choosetoAct.

Participate in the Week of Action
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