October 31, 2014





About Us

The National Day of Reason: May 1, 2014

A consortium of leaders from within the community of reason endorsed the idea of a National Day of Reason. This observance is held in parallel with the National Day of Prayer, on the first Thursday in May each year. The goal of this effort is to celebrate reason—a concept all Americans can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.

The National Day of Reason website is co-sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists.

The Day of Reason also exists to inspire the secular community to be visible and active on this day to set the right example for how to effect positive change. Local organizations might use “Day of Reason” to label their events, or they might choose labels such as Day of Action, Day of Service, or Rational Day of Care. The important message is to provide a positive, useful, constitutional alternative to the exclusionary National Day of Prayer.

To facilitate the commemoration of the National Day of Reason by individuals and organizations throughout the U.S., the American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists joined together in 2003 to launch this National Day of Reason web site.

This web site is designed to serve as the focal point for an effort to recognize the National Day of Reason, and as a platform to offer a criticism of the federally-sponsored National Day of Prayer. We hope that it will be a resource to the community of reason, the press, and the general public.

Why Do We Oppose the National Day of Prayer?

  • The National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution because it asks federal and local government entities to set aside tax dollar supported time and space to engage in religious ceremonies. This results in unconstitutional governmental support of religion over no religion.
  • Lead by fundamentalist Christian Shirley Dobson, the National Day of Prayer Task Force promoted thousands of events specifically in accordance with its Judeo-Christian beliefs and focused on a small segment of the Protestant Christianity. Since they hold their events on the government sponsored National Day of Prayer, government officials of all levels participate in these events as if they were government endorsed.
  • The Supreme Court has made it clear (and most Americans agree) that state sponsored prayer in school is inappropriately exclusionary. Why is a nationally sponsored day of prayer any more inclusive? This national effort geared toward a small slice of the religious spectrum is clearly outside the boundaries of proper governmental reach.
  • The National Day of Prayer makes those who don’t pray feel like second-class citizens. Why set aside a national day that needlessly excludes?
  • Religious Americans who wish to pray don’t need to be reminded by government to do so, so there’s no reason to limit prayer to a single day for those who chose to practice their chosen faith in that way. Government has no business saying when or what Americans should do when and if they engage in religious practice.
  • Government also violates the First Amendment with the National Day of Prayer by acting to promote a certain manifestation of religion. It emphasizes only one form of religious practice, and therefore discriminates against the many others, including alms giving, social justice, fasting, peace activism and meditation.
  • Many traditional religious groups encourage adherents not to make their prayer public, so this state sponsored public display of prayer is a direct affront to such teachings and disrespects countless religious Americans. Many Americans faithfully follow the words from the Sermon on the Mount, “When you pray don’t do it loudly in the synagogue or on street corners so that everyone can see you and think you are really good and holy.”
  • Whenever government involves itself in religious practice as is done with the National Day of Prayer it taints that religious practice by reducing the co-opted religion’s effectiveness to protest government action, and also (in an infeasible effort to broaden the practice’s appeal) government inappropriately dilutes the messages of faithful adherents.
  • Freedom of expression and worship, including the opportunity to pray or not pray as we wish, are already present without government endorsement. There is no need to set-aside a public day for prayer.
  • guest

    I think that scheduling the “National Day of Reason” to directly coincide with the “National Day of Prayer” is like a sibling having a temper tantrum because another sibling is getting attention.  Considering that the government, as far as i know, didn’t do anything regarding this “holiday” than acknowledge it, it’s not really a violation of the separation of church and state as the framers of the constitution intended, in my opinion.  By setting these two concepts against each other, essentially asking the public/community/masses to choose, you are unnecessarily isolating those who are reverent of prayer.  Reason is not the diametrically opposed alternative to prayer.  Prayer, in some ways, is a form of concentration, i find those concepts to be indistinguishable.  Perhaps those offended by prayer expect it to be akin to rubbing a lamp and expecting a genie. 

    For some people prayer is a form of reason.  see: The Serenity Prayer

    So, while some atheists/secular humanists might find conflict with religion because religion can be oppressive and misguided, it seems to me that the positioning of the Day of Reason throws them into the same ravine.  It’s like a child saying “No, mommy, look at me!”  If you wanted to illustrate respect for all walks and faiths, schedule it the day before, or the day after. 

    I’m “opinionated”  okay.  fine.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TCFEC74G7USFJ33UHSQKDCELVM Mike

    Obviously the first “point” on this “Why” list is incorrect.  Read the first amendment again, obviously none of you “people” have.  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…  Congress HASN’T, so you are wrong.  Setting aside appropriations does NOT create a law. Period.

    The Supreme Court is wrong. It overstepped it’s bounds in state matters.  It also doesn’t matter where most Americans agree or disagree, if the Supreme Court has made a ruling, so the point is moot. Besides, the Supreme Court does NOT have interpretive powers of the Constitution nor does it make law.  Read Article III.

    When are you going to require the words “In God We Trust” be removed from our currency and from the halls of Congress?

    PS…I am an atheist…and wish you and other organizations like this work on real problems instead of this kind of literal garbage.

     

  • Ryan

    “The National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution because it asks federal and local government entities to set aside tax dollar supported time and space to engage in religious ceremonies. This results in unconstitutional governmental support of religion over no religion.”

    I would read it again, Mike. Congress has established religion. It doesn’t say what religion; it just says religion. And the point about the Supreme Court having the power to make laws is debatable. I did my dissertation on the Supreme Court, and they may not be able to make laws but they can give themselves powers, i.e. Judicial Review.

    I would agree that “In God We Trust” should be removed from currency and the halls of Congress. That does establish religion. No matter how you look at it, it does. Congress has been trying to square it for years but it is a clear violation. Instead of lighting up the forums, why don’t you get a hold of these organizations and work with them to on real problems? The problem is that due to the lack of numbers of individuals, not only theists but atheists in fear to “come out,” most organizations support causes such as this so they can get more members and support when they need it. If you stand up for a cause, such as “In God We Trust” on US issued currency, you will have many standing with you, including myself.

    • Tstuhl

      No, it doesn’t!  Try reading the First Amendment again.

  • Cletus

    The National Day of Reason.  ”Let’s Start an Evolution!”

  • Christopher

    I think this is a lovely idea and I don’t perceive it as in competition in a sibling rivalry way with the national day of prayer as was suggested by a previous comment, but rather offers an alternative to those who might enjoy a day of introspection or focused thought but without the implication that there is a “god” as the word prayer suggests.  Even the Serenity Prayer is addressed to “god”.  It is funny to me that some people (comments below) are so reactionary to this idea. Once again, the general population reacts so defensively to ideas that are different from their own, as if there is some kind of threat to their lifestyle or well-being.  I say- go pray, if that is what you want to do. We live in a free country, and I celebrate my freedom by choosing to support an alternative to prayer. That is the American way.

  • Tstuhl

    Read the Old Testament book of Psalms Chapter 14 Verse 1.  ”The fool has said in his heart their is no God.”  The National Day of Reason believers may want to factor that into their reasoning.

    • guest

      You can’t use the bible to argue with them.  The bible draws it’s authority from the idea that it is inspired by God; they don’t believe that God exists.  I find it funny though, because i don’t need the bible to believe in God.

      • Why are people so stupid?

        I don’t need the bible to believe in humans. I like humans. What has any god done for us lately? hahaha :)

        • Caleb Bryant

          God gave you breath. He has done a lot for you.

    • guest713

      “there” not “their” —

  • guest

    Has anyone read the Dr. Seuss book where they are arguing about which side toast is supposed to be buttered on?  I think i am going to start a “religion” based on the teachings of Dr. Seuss, can we all agree that he existed? 

  • Julio Guerra

    “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from
    the words of my mouth.” The reasons are expressed in words. The
    National Day of Reason is actually the national day of prayer.

    The
    question is to who we going to pray. What reason will honor the
    Founding Fathers and the Constitution of the Nation, because as soon as
    God will be removed, there will not State United by Him any more, maybe an
    Union of Republics…like USSR… a Tyranny of One Great Pharaoh making US slave. Only God provide the real reasons to live in liberty.

  • Michael Dorian

    Every “reasonable” attempt to counter the spread of governmentally endorsed religiosity is worth the effort. I’m down.

  • s_werner

    I believe National Day of Reason would be better served to have it’s own unique calendar date. Why not make it April 30 so that it always occurs before the National Day of Prayer? I hate that we always tag along on the coattails of those we oppose!

  • rexer lilsok

    Problem with some of the reasons this site provides, such as the direct quote below, is deceptive. What they have left out is where Jesus reminds the crowd not to act as the Pharisees, hypocrites, & pray for show rather than from the heart as he was meaning, just b4 he says what is quoted by this site.. The bastardized meaning is often used when some atheists see prayer in public & use it in the wrong context.

    “Many traditional religious groups encourage adherents not to make their
    prayer public, so this state sponsored public display of prayer is a
    direct affront to such teachings and disrespects countless religious
    Americans. Many Americans faithfully follow the words from the Sermon on
    the Mount, “When you pray don’t do it loudly in the synagogue or on
    street corners so that everyone can see you and think you are really
    good and holy.”

  • Floyd_Perez

    There are several good points raised on this page, but I struggle with the following: “Religious Americans who wish to pray don’t need to be reminded by
    government to do so, so there’s no reason to limit prayer to a single
    day for those who chose to practice their chosen faith in that way.”

    Okay, but say I am a pacifist. Why should I be “reminded” of our military by the federal government on Memorial Day or Veterans Day? Answer – the day is simply an observance and I am not compelled to acknowledge it if I so choose.