The “National Day of Reason” exists for the sole purpose of tweaking the collective noses of those who promote the “National Day of Prayer,” namely Shirley Dobson and her husband’s supporters in the Christian Right. Or so it might seem to some.
But I like to think of it as closing the gap of inclusiveness that the National Day of Prayer obviously sought to bridge, despite its origins in the reflexive religiosity of the 1950’s. Look, I know that American isn’t a Christian nation, but there’s a hell of a lot of them here. Appealing to the spiritual ties that bind help bring everyone together, and that makes good psychological sense as well. But the National Day of Reason picks up where Prayer leaves off, and includes everyone, not just religious Americans, in a day that encourages reflective contemplation about solutions for our country’s woes.
Representative Pete Stark, the only acknowledged atheist (technically a nontheistic Unitarian) in Federal government, issued a proclamation of the National Day of Reason on the floor of Congress. He said:
“…reason must be the guiding principle of our democracy. In a nation of citizens from so many different backgrounds and beliefs, the only way we can solve our problems is through cultivating intelligent, moral, and ethical interactions among all people.”
This is a crucial point. Appealing to reason isn’t necessarily a condemnation of religion or those who have faith in the supernatural. Reason is accessible to all, no matter what their cultural heritage, and no matter what gods they worship. It isn’t the domain or prerogative of any group of people, and I hope that when we come together as a country, we can use it as a common ground to seek and craft real solutions.