As millions of Americans bow their heads next Thursday (May 3) for the annual National Day of Prayer, atheists, humanists and other nontheists will mark a day of their own.

The National Day of Reason — or “NDR” in the shorthand of the nontheist community — will also be held May 3, part protest, part celebration and totally godless.

“In times of great conflict and worry, people want to look to a higher power, and I am sympathetic to that,” said Paul Fidalgo, communications director at the Center for Inquiry. “But our day puts the focus back on people and what we can do for ourselves. We are trying to make a better world on our own by emphasizing good works and good deeds on the day.”

To that end, local groups of nontheists will hold blood drives (Groton, Conn.) training in lobbying politicians (Raleigh, N.C.) and voter registration drives (Flagstaff, Ariz.), as well as marches, rallies and social gatherings. One group in Putnam, Conn., is holding a “science for reason” book exchange — turn in a Bible and receive a free copy of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” among other titles.

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