CFI Celebrates and Applauds the National Day of Reason, May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and its affiliate organizations the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry celebrate this National Day of Reason on May 6, 2010. As in years past, the day is coinciding with the federally supported National Day of Prayer. Even though ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin on April 15, President Barack Obama has still issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

The National Day of Prayer was created by Congress in 1952 and later codified to take place the first Thursday in May after pressure from the Religious Right. Co-sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists since 2003, the National Day of Reason has been endorsed by other secular, skeptical, humanist, and atheist organizations around the country.

When it comes to confronting the daunting challenges facing humanity, those committed to science and secularism urge, in place of prayer, a reliance on reason, goodwill, and effective action. And with reason the rarest of commodities these days, it is instructive to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, a leading architect of our secular republic, who said, “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” 

Secular organizations around the country, including CFI, have scheduled activities to mark this important day. CFI special events include readings of classic freethinkers in Indianapolis; a blood drive in Tampa, and a tribute to Robert Ingersoll in Washington, D.C.

Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism declared:

“A secular democracy should have no place for a National Day of Prayer proclaimed and conducted by government. The federal government is supposed to show no favor among religions, or between religion and irreligion, and surely a National Day of Prayer is contrary to that fundamental principle. The National Day of Reason is important for two reasons. First, it is a private grassroots initiative, not a government program. Second, the National Day of Reason is important because unlike prayer, reason works. Most of the great cultural and technological advances that make modern life what it is exist because human beings employed reason. Prayer has had a far less enviable track record.”

Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s president and CEO, added “Reason can unite both the religious and nonreligious. Indeed, it is only through the use of reason that we can find common ground and solve the problems that confront all of us. Prayer divides, not only the religious from the nonreligious, but as history has demonstrated, one religion from another.”