A Message to State and Local Officials: Be Reasonable! Humanist Groups Raise Awareness of National Day of Reason by Pushing for Official Proclamations

In response to the National Day of Prayer, held annually since 1952 on the first Thursday in May, the American Humanist Association and Washington Area Secular Humanists created the National Day of Reason in 2003.

We are all human beings faced with realities that must be tackled through reason. The National Day of Prayer is an affront to this reality and must be challenged, or at the very least amended. Prayer alone, whether secular or religious, is not what this country needs. It falls upon us ordinary citizens, torch-bearers of reason, science, and critical thinking, to change the focus of this day. For that reason, various local groups of the American Humanist Association, along with coalition groups, are reaching out to their communities and local or state governments to raise awareness about the National Day of Reason.

The chance of influencing the government to issue a counter proclamation for the National Day of Prayer is slim. However, just as the president of the United States issues a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray on the first Thursday of May every year, humanist groups have begun to approach the executive and legislative offices of their local and state governments, encouraging them to issue proclamations for the National Day of Reason. These proclamations encourage all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to resolve human problems and for the welfare of humankind.

In years past, many local groups have found success in these endeavors, and a few groups have already met with tremendous success this year. Many more are working hard to mobilize their members for similar efforts, even in regions where success is unlikely.

In California, The Humanist Community in Ventura County has branched out to many different counties and cities and already has a handful of proclamations in progress. The UU Humanists of Clearwater, Florida, the Humanists & Freethinkers of Cape Fear in North Carolina, and the WNC Humanists in North Carolina are also planning to participate in National Day of Reason this year by requesting that their local representatives issue a Day of Reason proclamation. Many other local coalition groups are also approaching their local officials.

With one more month to go, there is great hope that many more groups will rise to the challenge and work with government officials to have them issue a proclamation honoring the National Day of Reason. During a time when many heads will be bowed down in prayer, we hope that many of us will be looking forward with clear eyes, thinking about how to make our nation a better place for all of its citizens in the future. On the National Day of Reason website, you can find detailed instructions to “Getting a Proclamation Honoring National Day of Reason From Your Town, City or State.”

If you have any questions about how to reach out to your local government official, please contact Matthew Bulger, AHA Legislative Associate, at mbulger@americanhumanist.org.

If your local group is successful in having your local government official issue a proclamation for National Day of Reason, please inform Rachael Berman, AHA Grassroots and Celebrant Program Coordinator, at rberman@americanhumanist.org.