Many Ways to Celebrate National Day of Reason

The National Day of Reason (NDoR), on May 4, 2024, recognizes the importance of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to resolve social problems and promote the welfare of humankind. It continues America’s original efforts towards a secular democracy, keeping religion and government separate while ensuring that reason is the basis for public policy. It celebrates the important roles played by reason and critical thought in our nation’s founding, its social evolutions, and its necessary improvements.

More than ever, Christian nationalists and far-right fanatics in the United States are strategically and methodically organizing to impose one narrow view of fundamentalist Christianity on all of us—American Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, humanists, atheists, even other Christians, etc. They are enacting draconian abortion bans from the 1800s, banning books (but not the Bible), forcing public schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms, seeking to ban reproductive healthcare like IVF and birth control, attacking gay marriage and other LGBTQIA+ rights, and more—even calling themselves Christian nationalists because they believe America is a “Christian nation.” A state enforcing the tenets of one belief system on its people is dangerous and antithetical to progress, as we’ve learned from India’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Iran’s Islamic Republic. Perhaps Christian nationalist sympathizers can’t make the comparison, because they believe that Christianity is somehow “different” (i.e., morally superior). Maybe they do see the similarities, and just want to push their beliefs anyway. A secular government permits freedom of religion or belief to prosper. Public policy formation must be rooted in reason, critical thought, science, knowledge, free inquiry, and empathy.

Nontheists are not a monolith and, contrary to fearmongering stereotypes, we are not hateful, anti-religious, or morally-depraved people seeking to take away religious rights. Rather, we understand that we will all be safer and free to express our beliefs when our government is separate from religion. We at the American Humanist Association work together with people and groups of various faiths to ensure that our secular government is defended and encouraged. Our partners of faith know that Christian nationalism will hurt the ability for people of faith to freely practice as they see fit as well as for humanists to live freely, and that it therefore needs to be stopped in its tracks.

Coming together to celebrate the National Day of Reason makes it clear that it is action that brings about the well-being of a society—not religious exceptionalism wrapped in the guise of “a celebration of prayer.” While the National Day of Prayer won’t end in this political climate, we will always oppose unconstitutional government support of religion and any state-sanctioned prayer. To promote consistency and the inclusivity of all faiths and beliefs, the National Day of Reason, while previously celebrated simultaneously with the National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May of each year, is now being observed annually on May 4. This new date will also correlate with the National Day of Reason resolution, introduced annually into Congress in most recent years by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8).

Join us in celebrating the NDoR. May the 4th be with you! Here are recommended ways you can show your support for a national or local Day of Reason:

• Plan a special event to commemorate the NDoR, such as a teach-in, special lecture, or social gathering

On Wednesday, May 1, the inaugural Congressional Reason Reception will be held by the American Humanist Association, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Secular Coalition for America. Register to join us on Zoom, 6:30pm to 8pm ET, and enjoy an evening of comedy and fun with members of Congress and keynote speaker Kate Cohen. Representatives Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin, co-founders of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, will be presenting first-ever awards, including one “honoring” this year’s worst violator of separation of church and state.

On Saturday, May 4, the Secular Humanist Society of New York will hear from Taner Edis, physicist and skeptic, about his recent book Weirdness! What Fake Science and the Paranormal Tell Us about the Nature of Science. Tickets for the talk and a three course lunch are $45 and the event is at the Green Room at Stout Restaurant, 133 W. 33rd Street, from 12 – 2pm ET.

• Host an event or Lobby Day at your state capitol

On Tuesday, April 30th, Rhode Island Atheists are marking a Day of Reason in Rhode Island with a ceremony at the State House at 82 Smith St, Providence, RI 02903 at 3pm ET to coincide with the Day of Reason Proclamation they are asking the Governor to sign. “This event will mark the importance of reason, religious freedom, and separation of church and state in Rhode Island.”

On Wednesday, May 1, HumanistsMN is hosting the National Day of Reason Breakfast and Reception at the State Capitol to send a message to lawmakers that public policy should be based on science and reason, not religious dogma. “In today’s political climate, church-state separation is more urgent than ever…Christian nationalism is taking its toll across the country: limits to reproductive freedom, attacks on trans students, book bans, efforts to damage our public schools, political leaders who say they are following God’s instructions, and more.” Presentations will include: “The True Meaning of Religious Freedom: Fighting the White Christian Nationalist Threat” by Center for Freethought Equality Political Manager Ron Millar; “Congress Shall Make No Law: Preserving the Separation of Church and State” by American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota Executive Director Deepinder Singh Mayell; and words from members of the Secular Government Caucus, a group of lawmakers who have united to stand up for separation of religion and government. The event is free but RSVPs are needed so they can order enough food. Join HumanistsMN May 1, 8:30-10am CT at the Minnesota State Capitol, 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, L’Etoile du Nord Vault Room B15 St. Paul, MN 55155.

• Work to have a Day of Reason proclaimed by your state or local government

A proclamation is a document typically introduced by an executive branch official, such as a Governor, Mayor, or County Executive. A resolution is commonly a document that is introduced in a legislative body, such as a state legislature or city council. Learn how you can work with your local elected officials to encourage these introductions here.

• Hold a press conference for your local media to promote respect for the separation of religion and government, and to draw attention to the many breaches of that principle

Want to draft an official statement for your organization or group? Learn how to here.

• Organize a letter-writing campaign urging your elected officials to support the separation of religion and government

• Write op eds or letters to the editor to spread awareness

• Take action by contacting your elected officials in the House of Representatives at the Humanist Action Headquarters

• Visit the National Day of Reason website to view planned events and read media coverage from previous years.