Atheists Want ‘National Day Of Reason’ To Counter National Day Of Prayer

Photo: Justin, Flickr, Creative Commons

Mary Lou Lang Contributor
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A California congressman, an atheist organization and several humanist group are pushing to to have a National Day of Reason this year on the same day as the National Day of Prayer.

California Democratic Rep. Mike Honda introduced H. Res. 670, which would designate May 5, 2016 as a “National Day of Reason” and recognize “the importance of reason in the betterment of humanity,“ according to the resolution, which is now before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“This nation is based on pluralism, on a diversity of views. The National Day of Reason is not in opposition to the National Day of Prayer. It is simply another way for people to think about one of the fundamental forces that built this nation,” said Honda in an statement.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging members to support Honda. On its website, FFRF wrote the National Day of Reason is “cleverly the same as for the National Day of Prayer — clearly an attempt to counter the unconstitutional sanction given to Christian religiosity on that day.”

FFRF asked for members to call their representatives and committee members and to support the resolution, and its talking points indicated the new designation would be an “inclusive measure” for all Americans to celebrate on May 5.

“This alternative to the National Day of Prayer is inclusive of all Americans, as both the religious and nonreligious can benefit from ‘focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thought, the scientific method and free inquiry to the resolution of human problems and the welfare of human kind,’” FFRF wrote, quoting the resolution’s language.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told The Daily Caller that Honda’s resolution was not to replace the National Day of Prayer but to “even it up a little bit.”

“We certainly endorse the National Day of Reason,” said Gaylor, indicating it was “very affirming” to have a representative introduce it.

“The National Day of Prayer is one of those series of unconstitutional bills passed in the 1960s,” said Gaylor, and pointed to several other examples including the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency.

The National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, according to Gaylor, because “the government is not supposed to take sides on religion,” she said.

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

“The National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment of the U.S. 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,” the site states.

The humanists groups have a list of reasons it opposes the national prayer day, including one that excludes those who don’t pray. “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?”

The website’s interactive map shows eight events so far were registered across the country celebrating “The National Day of Reason.” They included Celebrate Reason in Tempe, Ariz., Reasonfest in Charleston, S.C., and the National Day of Reason 2016 Pancake Breakfast in Boston, Mass.

Mary Lou Lang