On the Hill: National Day of Reason Resolution Reintroduced

For the fifth consecutive year, the American Humanist Association (AHA) has worked with our congressional allies to reintroduce the National Day of Reason (NDOR) resolution in the US House of Representatives. This year’s resolution, H.Res 344, was introduced yesterday by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). The bill also has the support of Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

This resolution is short, but what it advocates for is important, as you can see from the official text:

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.”

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 National Day of Reason is the inclusive alternative to the National Day of Prayer, an annual observance during which the president issues a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray in thanks for America’s freedom and other values.

Unfortunately, the Day of Prayer excludes the nearly one quarter of Americans who are nonreligious and don’t pray but who wish to celebrate the important values that are lauded during the observance. More than that, it alienates every American, religious or not, who values the separation of church and state. The National Day of Reason was therefore created as a viable, inclusive alternative to the Day of Prayer that is equally worthy of government recognition. The goal of this effort is to celebrate reason—a concept all Americans (both religious and nonreligious) can support—and to promote public policy that is based on reason and logic instead of politics and ideology.

In the past, the Republican governors of Iowa and Nebraska, as well as the Democratic governors of Delaware and Rhode Island (along with numerous mayors and city councils) have issued NDOR proclamations, and members of Congress have made statements on the record honoring the NDOR.

We’re proud to have this resolution reintroduced in Congress, especially during a time when much of the public policy being pushed out of Washington doesn’t feel all that rational. The AHA will continue to advocate for members of the House to co-sponsor this resolution and for its passage through the entire Congress.