National Day of Prayer draws religious, secular events to Raleigh

cseward@newsobserver.com, sgilman@newsobserver.comMay 1, 2014 

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Lindy Bravo, left, flies a religious flag while a small group says a prayer beneath it during National Day of Prayer activities on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh on May 1, 2014.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Dozens of people came out to a National Day of Prayer lunchtime event on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh, where people of faith walked around the state government mall to pray for various public leaders, workers and the people they affect.

The Halifax Mall gathering was one of many events held around the Triangle in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, which was established by President Harry Truman in the early 1950s.

Meanwhile, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Triangle Freethought Society are holding a two-day convention this weekend, partly to protest Thursday’s National Day of Prayer.

The convention, “Freedom From Religion in the Bible Belt,” will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel on South Salisbury Street.

The purpose of the convention is to “win hearts and minds for reason and secularism,” according to the foundation website. Speakers include former ministers, student activists and a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill religion professor. The event includes a “non-prayer” breakfast for $20.

Organizer Kim Ellington said the convention is a networking opportunity for those who have no religion. “It’s very easy, especially in this part of the country, to feel that you’re the only one who doesn’t have religion, but the fact is that a lot of us don’t,” Ellington said. “It’s a great place to find community.”

Registration for the event is $50 for foundation members, $55 for spouse or companion of a member, $90 for non-members, and $5 for students. For more information, go to www.ffrf.org.

VIDEO: While at Thursday's Day of Prayer event, Samuel Cravotta sounded a shofar, which is slung over his shoulder. A shofar is a traditional biblical animal horn used to call and celebrate religious events. Cravotta’s shofar, which he got from Israel, is made from the horn of an ibex, or wild goat. See it, and other scenes from Raleigh's National Day of Prayer event in the video below.

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