New Orleans Declares This Thursday “Citywide Day of Reason” May 5, 2009

New Orleans Declares This Thursday “Citywide Day of Reason”

This is a great contrast to the National Day of Prayer.

In 2005, the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association was issued the following Proclamation from Mayor Ray Nagin to celebrate the National Day of Reason:


This year, they’ll be awarded a proclamation for a Citywide Day of Reason signed by all of the New Orleans City Council Members.

It reads:

WHEREAS, the foundational documents of the United States of America were born of the Enlightenment, incorporating a commitment to the principles of reason, tolerance, morality, democracy, and human rights for the first time in history and enabling ethical interactions among people; and

WHEREAS, the United States has been a world leader in many of the fields of endeavor that rely on reason, including scientific and medical research, social reform, international law, and progressing and promoting the ideals of democratic government; and

WHEREAS, on this date in 1732, the French crown reinstated its Superior Council, a precursor to this lawmaking body, as the executive, legislative, and judicial administrator of the newly founded settlement that became the City of New Orleans, and this group effectively utilized the powers of reason to provide law and governance to what was to become one of the most pre-eminent cities in North America; and

WHEREAS, New Orleans – its people and its institutions – must use reason and its corresponding principles in all phases of the recovery in order for the city to represent the progress that its leaders embodied on this day in 1732; and

WHEREAS, the consistent application of reason offers hope that we may resolve the many challenges facing humanity, whether environmental, military, economic, or social, and the specific challenges facing post-Katrina New Orleans, NOW THEREFORE,

BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS that the Council hereby proclaims today, Thursday, the 7th day of May, 2009, a citywide Day of Reason, and encourages all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day by focusing on the employ of reason, critical thought, and free inquiry, both their history in this country and this city and their ability to resolve problems and care for the welfare of humankind.

How amazing is that?

In addition, group president Harry Greenberger will be opening the Council Meeting on Thursday with a secular invocation.

Doug Stewart, a member of NOSHA, asks this question to other atheists:

Why can’t any atheist organization with a City Council at least ask for something like this? If we can do it in the deep South, surely we can do it anywhere?

Maybe one day the President would be signing a National Day of Reason Proclamation?

We can start small and dream big.

Thanks for NOSHA for setting some fantastic examples for the rest of us.

(Thanks to Doug for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • That is awesome! I agree with Doug Stewart. That should be spread around, especially to the president. What a great contrast (and a better idea) to the day of prayer.

  • lamb

    It’s kind of hard to imagine that this is happening in a state where Bobby Jindal is the governor. I want one of these for my city!

  • The text of this post says “city-wide” but the image of the signed document says “national.” Did someone goof? How does a mayor declare something to be national?

  • SarahH

    Now we just have to work on getting every day to be a day of reason…

  • Mike

    Nice catch Doubting Foo. Would be interested to see if this isn’t just a hoax then.

  • Anna

    anna is suddenly quite thrilled to call herself a native new orleanian.

  • Where on NOSHA’s site is the text of all this? Your link to their front page doesn’t reveal this info.


  • TXatheist

    I wouldn’t go to crazy about the south, I tried last year with the mayor of round rock and they said he wasn’t interested. But be patient, you never know.

  • Richard Wade

    Wait a minute.

    I can’t find any reference to this on Google other than at atheist websites. News sources have nothing so far. There is no mention on the New Orleans City website, but they mention other proclamations.

    Why is this not in the general news?

  • As with all public atheist activities, they’re deemed controversial (how could ‘Reason’ be controversial?) so nothing happens until that last minute. We just heard yesterday. The New Orleans Council meetings web page hasn’t been updated yet but I just called the Clerk of the Council (504) 685-1085 and they confirmed the appointment and said that no one has got around to posting the meeting on the web site yet. If anyone wants to be a nag, call them up and ‘motivate’ them.

    Man, you guys are such Doubting Thomas’s. Can’t you take anything on faith? Oh… I guess not! That’s whey we’re here.

  • Just4Kix

    Why celebrate just one day a year?

    Every day is a Day of Reason for me. I make it personal goal to learn a new fact or a new skill each and every day to better myself.

    As opposed to a National Day of Prayer… which we all know a prayer has about a 50 percent chance of coming true anyway.

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you for the clarification. I look forward to celebrating National Day of Reason, and I look forward to watching the backlash of reactionary idiots putting their feet in their mouths as they decry the evils of reason, science and rationality.

  • christi

    Further proof that New Orleans is a hedonistic city of sin. (hee hee) 😉

    Proud to have spent 5 years in that great city! Oh, I hope this spreads!!!!

  • JimboB

    I agree with SarahH. Every day should be a day of reason.

  • Revyloution

    Next big huricane to hit New Orleans is getting blamed on this. Mark my words.

    Im not predicting the future, im just analyzing trends in statistics.

  • Doug wrote:

    Man, you guys are such Doubting Thomas’s. Can’t you take anything on faith? Oh… I guess not! That’s whey we’re here.

    No, not a Doubting Thomas. But this isn’t a news site. It’s a blog, writing about the news. It’s reasonable to ask for a link or citation to the original source for what Hemant is writing about. 🙂

  • What is frustrating is the co-opting reason as a function of atheism and secularism. Reasoning is a process of logic and not a world view. The day of reason lacks an understanding of what is reason. Someone should get go back to reading Wittgensiten.

  • Doubting Foo is correct when he pointed out that previous proclamations that NOSHA had received from the New Orleans Council said “National” Day of Reason. This is because the process of getting a proclamation starts with us proposing the wording, and then it being reviewed and approved by the council. It wasn’t until this time around that the council spotted the error and changed it to “Citywide” National Day of Reason.

  • Ian

    Where’s the outcry that this could be seen as a violation of Church and State separation? Are we all shy of becoming hypocrites now?

    Yes “Day of Reason” is mostly secular and is likely a safe endorsement by the city, but are we really just trying to kick out “Days of Prayer” in order to push our own agendas on other people?

    I really don’t appreciate Doug’s question at the end: “Why can’t any atheist organization with a City Council at least ask for something like this?” Atheist organizations shouldn’t be pushing for this.

    Secular organizations, maybe, but not atheist ones.

  • Jim Cummings

    I saw a big billboard by tulane today about an atheist alliance in New Orleans. Do you have any info on this?

    Also, I’ve only started reading your work tonight but I’m digging it.

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