“Choose to Act” on May 2


Rabbi Adam ChalomHumanist Rabbi Adam Chalom of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation has a response to the National Day of Prayer—instead of praying for a change, choose to take action and do something good.

To pray or not to pray is a very personal choice, exactly the kind of personal religious decision that has no place in official government pronouncements. A National Day of Prayer that calls on “all Americans” to talk to a god is clearly establishing religion (in preference to non-religion) in a way that excludes secular Americans. The question is: what should our response be?

I once had a congregant ask me to pray for her cousin who faced a breast cancer relapse. I responded, “I have a better idea – give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits and make her feel less alone and more cared for will do much more for her than talking to anything else.”

The Humanist world has recently sponsored a counter-program—the National Day of Reason, which celebrates the power of the human mind to understand and improve the world. After all, there is something illogical about prayer. As the late comedian George Carlin pointed out in 1999:

The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a Divine Plan. . . .

If prayer is a form of meditation, a way of expressing one’s deepest hopes and wishes, an experience of self-centering, all well and good. But expecting that our desires can transform the world without our effort to realize them is neither practical nor realistic nor helpful. We should heed the lesson of the great 19th century freethinker Colonel Robert Ingersoll: “Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers; it is the only prayer that deserves an answer—good, honest, noble work.”

Read the rest of Rabbi Chalom’s post here.

Looking for ways to do good on May 2? Here are a few suggestions: 

Check out this list for more ways to make a difference in your community.