National Day of Reason resolution for May 4 offsets National Day of Prayer

Several forward-thinking members of Congress have introduced a National Day of Reason resolution to counter this Thursday’s National Day of Prayer.

Led by Rep. Jared Huffman and Rep. Jamie Raskin, co-chairs of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, a number of legislators are championing a resolution proclaiming tomorrow, May 4, as an annual National Day of Reason.

The National Day of Prayer occurs on the first Thursday in May as proclaimed by an unconstitutional congressional law requiring the president to encourage citizens to “turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” This year, the National Day of Reason resolution for the first time claims the same day as the National Day of Prayer for reason. The Freedom From Religion Foundation won a historic federal court ruling in 2010 actually declaring the National Day of Prayer law unconstitutional, which was later thrown out by an appeals court based on standing, not the merits. Federal Judge Barbara C. Crabb reasoned that Congress could no more enact a prayer statute “than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.”

The National Day of Reason resolution is an attempt to repair the constitutional damage. The resolution reads:

Whereas the application of reason has been the essential precondition for humanity’s extraordinary scientific, medical, technological, and social progress since before the founding of our country;

Whereas reason provides vital hope today for confronting the environmental crises of our day, including the civilizational emergency of climate change, and for cultivating the rule of law, democratic institutions, justice, and peace among nations;

Whereas the United States founders insisted upon the primacy of reason and knowledge in public life, and drafted the Constitution to prevent official establishment of religion and to protect freedom of thought, speech, and inquiry in civil society;

Whereas James Madison, author of the First Amendment and fourth President of the United States, stated ‘‘the advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty’’, and ‘‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives’’; and

Whereas, May 4, 2023, would be an appropriate date to designate as a ‘‘National Day of Reason’’: Now, therefore, be it resolved that the House of Representatives— (1) supports the designation of a ‘‘National Day of Reason’’; and (2) encourages all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing on the central importance of reason, critical thought, the scientific method and free inquiry to resolving social problems and promoting the welfare of humankind.

Other sponsors include Reps. Julia Brownley, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mark Pocan.

“We are grateful to Rep. Huffman, Rep. Raskin and other co-sponsors for working so that reason and our secular Constitution will prevail,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members and several chapters across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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