Beginning in 2015, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced a formal resolution in support of the National Day of Reason. His defeat in 2016, despite coming at the hands of another Democrat, put future versions of that legislation in peril. But fellow Californian Rep. Ted Lieu picked up where Honda left off, introducing similar legislation in 2017. Last year. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), now the only openly non-theistic legislator in Congress as well as chair of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, introduced the resolution.
Now, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a co-chair of the Freethought Caucus, has introduced H. Res. 344, designating today as the “National Day of Reason,” with the goal of recognizing the “importance of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to resolving social problems and promoting the welfare of humankind.”
Today also happens to coincide with the National Day of Prayer. (Not a coincidence, obviously).
The text of the resolution is fairly short but it’s packed with quotable bits.
Expressing support for the designation of May 2, 2019, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognizing the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity.
Whereas the application of reason has been the essential precondition for humanity’s extraordinary scientific, medical, technological, and social progress since the modern Enlightenment;
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 America’s 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 that, “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 2, 2019, 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.
The American Humanist Association deserves the credit for making this happen.
The National Day of Reason serves as an alternative to the National Day of Prayer, during which government officials at the federal, state, and local level ask their constituents to join them in sectarian prayer. Not only do government officials use the National Day of Prayer to participate in an egregious violation of the separation between church and state, but they also alienate millions of humanists like you and me and others who look to reason — not prayer — to solve problems.
The National Day of Reason — a concept all Americans can support — was created as an alternative to the National Day of Prayer to raise awareness of unconstitutional religious intrusion in government. That’s why this resolution encourages Americans to use “reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to the resolution of human problems.”
The AHA urges everyone to contact their representatives and encourage them to support the resolution.
This resolution is currently co-sponsored by Rep. Huffman and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
You might argue that this resolution is a purely symbolic gesture. That’s true, but so is the Day of Prayer. And if there’s one thing we need a lot more of in Washington right now, it’s reason. Plus, this sort of resolution is a nice reminder that there are some legislators who take evidence and rational thinking seriously. Be sure you’re supporting them in 2020 as well.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)