(Washington, DC, April 30, 2013) — Two members of Congress are offering encouragement to those taking part in National Day of Reason events on May 2, an observance that promoters see as a more inclusive alternative to the religiously focused, government-sponsored National Day of Prayer.
“The National Day of Reason celebrates the application of reason and the positive impact it has had on humanity,” Rep. Michael Honda (CA) declared in the Congressional record. “It is also an opportunity to reaffirm the Constitutional separation of religion and government.”
“I encourage all citizens to join in observing this day and focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to the resolution of human problems for the welfare of humanity,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) entered into the Congressional Record.
This support takes on a new meaning this year in light of the recent controversy over the refusal to include secular representation at the official memorial service honoring the victims of the recent Boston bombings. The National Day of Prayer Task Force openly admits that its purpose is to represent “a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance.” Supporters of the National Day of Reason find this practice exclusionary.
“Our elected officials dishonor their office and their constituents when they promote and attend divisive events that tell a growing minority of Americans that they aren’t worthy of full citizenship,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “Our secular government has no business endorsing expression of some beliefs while excluding others.”
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by an act of Congress to be held each year on the first Thursday of May. In response to what it regards as an ongoing violation of the First Amendment, the American Humanist Association, together with the Washington Area Secular Humanists, created the National Day of Reason “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.”
Support by elected officials for the National Day of Reason is nothing new. Former Rep. Pete Stark (CA) issued National Day of Reason proclamations while in office, as have several local and state government officials.
Local groups all over the country hold events on the National Day of Reason in a variety of ways, but all are geared toward raising the visibility of the secular community and to setting an example for how one might effect positive change. Local events in past years have included a day of volunteer work, a charity activity, or lectures and discussions designed to foster rational thought. The National Day of Reason website at NationalDayOfReason.org indicates directions that local groups around the country can or are taking this year.