At least two cities on Thursday recognized the National Day of Reason, a celebration intended to be a secular alternative to the National Day of Prayer.
Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, North Carolina and the Council of the City of New Orleans both issued National Day of Reason proclamations, urging citizens to celebrate free thought and rational inquiry.
In late April, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) issued a proclamation on the House floor recognizing the National Day of Reason. He described the event as “an opportunity to reaffirm the Constitutional separation of religion and government.”
The National Day of Reason was promoted by the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America. The yearly celebration occurs on the first Thursday of May, the same day as the National Day of Prayer.
“Reason should be the guiding force for public policy,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The National Day of Prayer excludes millions of Americans who choose not to pray or prefer keeping prayer private. Reason is something that everyone can celebrate.”
Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952 and every President has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation since then.
“On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience,” Obama said, proclaiming May 3, 2012, as a National Day of Prayer. “Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation.”
The National Day of Prayer Task Force, a Christian conservative group, helps promote National Day of Prayer events and proclamations around the country.
“Even though most national, state, and local leaders have again acknowledged a National Day of Prayer, there is still a disturbing trend of trying to remove God and prayer from all aspects of American public life,” National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson, said.
“President Ronald Reagan once said, ‘If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under,'” she added. “Whether it involves the Ten Commandments or our Pledge of Allegiance, there is a very small number of people leading this movement to expel the Creator of the universe from society altogether.”