Yesterday, 12 members of ASV protested the National Day of Prayer observance in front of San Jose City Hall. This year's prayer event seemed to be sparsely attended and if it wasn't for the students of a Christian high school leaving class to attend, there probably would've been only 40 or so beggars… er, I mean prayers. There was much high-falootin' coming from the podium. Of course, only Christian high-falootin' was allowed. If this was supposed to be a national day of prayer, how come only Christians are allowed on the podium?

The high school kids were actually nice to converse/debate with. At least they came over to us and acted courteously. They asked many questions. And we gave them reasoned answers. Unfortunately, their only reference book was their bible (one funny moment: We tried explaining that there were two sets of 10 commandments [Exodus 20, 2-17 and Exodus 34, 14-27] and showed these kids a copy of them that Mark had printed up. "No, no, I want to see them in the bible" said one young man. So we handed over a Gideon's bible that Mark had brought along. "No, no, I don't want to see your bible, I'll use one of ours." Picky! And when they found the citations, they huddled and came up with, "Oh, that's god repeating himself." Right.)

Tom Maley from East Bay Atheists had 5 or 6 students and one Christian adult sitting on the grass with him, they making a semi-circle with Tom as the focus. It reminded me of a certain scene from "The Last Temptation of Christ." Good thing Tom does not have a messiah-complex. Ben Baumgartner had a gang of followers, too, giving other students a good education. And MarkiThomas …well, Mark was still there, surrounded by 8 or so people, a half-hour after the event had ended giving a science class to, well truth be said, the scientifically ignorant. Ed Gauci had his camera with him so I'm sure photos will be posted soon. And of course, Dave Mandel brought his harmonica and gave music lessons.

All the Christians who made contact with us were reminded that we were not there protesting their right to pray on public grounds, rather we were protesting the entanglement of state and church in the proclaiming of a national day of prayer.

Thanks to all who came out to help give voice to that concern.

Joe Mercado