Rep. Pete Stark Recognizes National Day of Reason on House Floor

Thanks, Rep. Pete Stark, for supporting the National Day of Reason in the House of Representatives!

Pete Stark, circa 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Thursday, May 3, 2012 as the 2012 National Day of Reason.

The National Day of Reason celebrates the application of reason and the positive impact it has had on humanity. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm the Constitutional separation of religion and government.

On March 24th, I was proud to address the tens of thousands of Americans who gathered on the Mall for the Reason Rally. These individuals came from all around the country to deliver a simple message: 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.

Our nation faces many problems — bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, creating jobs, educating our children, and protecting our safety net from irresponsible cuts. We will solve these issues through the application of reason. We must also protect women’s reproductive choices, the integrity of scientific research, and our public education system from those who would hide behind religious dogma to undermine them.

Finally, the National Day of Reason is about taking time to improve our communities. Every year, events are held on this day that demonstrate the desire of secular Americans to help their fellow citizens and our nation as a whole. Community service events, such as food drives and blood drives, are just some of the ways that people will be working to help those in need on the Day of Reason and throughout the year.

I encourage everyone to join in observing this day and focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thinking, the scientific method, and free inquiry to improve our world and our nation.

Was that symbolic? Totally. Nothing more. But it’s a form of outreach Secular Americans aren’t used to. And you can bet a Christian group somewhere is pissed off that anything “reasonable” would happen on the same day as the National Day of Prayer…

You know, for an event that claims to be neither political nor exclusively religious, its celebrants love to talk about the government and Jesus…:

Speaking on behalf of the Christian Coalition, board member Billy McCormack described the National Day of Reason as “simply a blatant assault on Christianity.”

“Secular fundamentalists believe in and serve their god called ‘reason’ and want the nation to equate it with the Lord Jesus Christ,” McCormack told CP via email. “France bowed to the god of reason when it adopted its Constitution. Our forefathers founded a Christian nation based on the teachings of Jesus. The difference is plain.”

McCormack has it wrong, of course. Reason isn’t equivalent to Jesus. It’s better than Jesus. But unlike the NDoP, the NDoR is something everything can and should celebrate. Better to govern with evidence and logic and substance than through mythology and faith and nonsense.

“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.”

(Image via Andrew Hecht, Creative Commons licensed)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • jdm8

    Secularists are fundamentalists when they want equality.  Way to show your true colors.

    • Deven_Kale

       Care to define the fundamental secular dogma for us, so we know what you mean by “secular fundamentalist”?

      • ian

        Are you stupid or sumfin?  It’s like, er er,  you know what I mean, er er, it’s like ‘secular fundamentalism’. Duh!

      • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

        I wouldn’t call it a dogma, but as a secularist I do believe there are some fundamentals we adhere to. They’re not written in a holy book, but they’re written in our genes. We evolved as a social species and, as such, we have an innate need to care for one another and seek peace and prosperity. Those are the fundamentals of a secular ideology, and I don’t think it’s wrong to call them that. I think instead of bitching and moaning about the word fundamentalist, we should be arguing the fundamentals. Ours are clearly better; ethically, morally, politically, logically, and in practice.

        • Deven_Kale

           Secularism is basically just ignoring religion or religious claims. It’s a lot like atheism in that sense, except it has no implications of personal belief.

          What you’re talking about is a form of ethics which you’ve added on top of secularism, and without more detail sounds a lot like secular humanism to me. Secularism in and of itself makes no ethical claims, nor should it.

          I admit that being an atheist generally leads to a propensity for a belief in secular humanism. That does not mean that humanism, or any form of ethics at all, need be added into that definition though.

          I still affirm that there are no secular fundamentals, and therefore there cannot be such a person as a “secular fundamentalist.”

          • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

            lol That argument has been stated so often that it might as well be our dogma.

          • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

            But I’m saying that the fundamentals are within our genes, within who we are as people. When you take away the distraction of religion and ignore the false ethics religion provides, what you have left are the fundamentals of our humanity. Since you have to ignore the false ethics that religion masks our humanity with to arrive at the ethics ingrained in our genetic make-up, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that human ethics untainted by religious dogma might as well be called secular ethics. And if secularism has fundamental ethics… then… well… that’s my argument.

            • Deven_Kale

               Obviously we disagree here, and I can tell you’re willing to be just as pigheaded as I am on this subject. Rather than repeatedly butting heads and turning Hemants comment section into little more than a pissing match (I know, it very well could anyway), I think I will bow out of the discussion while it’s still civil.

              Go in peace.

              • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

                lol… Good call. I’m actually not as pigheaded as I sound on this specific topic though. I agreed with you until I started really thinking about it 10 minutes ago… so I am still very much amenable to argument.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mlmccurley78 Melissa McCurley

      There are no fundamentals to secularism.  It is partially defined by a lack of dogmatic fundamentals.What is wrong with using reason so we make good decisions no matter what religion (or  none) we are a part of?  Reason ensures no one gets oppressed.

    • Cincinatheist

      Well, at least you’re recognizing that we don’t have equality today. That’s a start I suppose. 

      PS, I have been getting quite the amusement out of the trolls that have started coming around since the move to Patheos.

      • jdm8

        I think people misunderstood my comment.  My comment was directed at McCormack’s attitude in the article.

        • Cincinatheist

          Oops. My bad jdm8. I apologize. ;-) Next time, I’ll RTFA before I get all offended and shit. 

          However, my comment about the random trolls still stands. They still amuse me, even though you aren’t one of them. :-)

          • jdm8

            No problem, and I agree with your sentiments.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Am I the only one who understood what jdm8 was saying? He was admonishing the fact that McCormack thought that secularists who wanted equality were fundamentalists in some manner. Read the post before responding to it, people.

      • jdm8

        Thank you.  I had to edit it slightly to make it clearer.

      • Deven_Kale

         His original comment before editing was a bit more accusatory. Unfortunately I didn’t save it so I can’t quote it verbatim, but it was something along the lines of “You secularists sure can be fundamentalists when you want to be treated equally.” At least, that’s how I took it. His edited comment is much better, so I can see how you could read the replies to his current comment and be confused.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Ohh, I gotcha. Damn this editing feature. :)

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    We can use the contact form on his site to thank him, as well.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I’m happy to see that the Christian Coalition acknowledges that their religion is threatened by the application of reason.

  • Dan Dorfman

    What an insulated little area that christian post website is.

  • LutherW

    And tomorrow they can go back to providing logic and reason with each of their bills, but unfortunately often based on false ‘facts’.

  • Adam Johnson

    This is unbelievable.  Wonderful statement, and a reply that couldn’t have been more predicable.  I like the part where he throws in the “France” reference to get our knees shaking.

  • Thegoodman

    This guy is mad! There is no room for reason, compromise, or secular influence in Washington.

  • Fentwin

    So just acknowledging that non-believers exsist is “simply a blatant assault on Christianity”?

    I do declauh, whe-ah are mah clutching pearls?

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

       I just got a mental image in my head of a whole new version of the Santa/M&Ms commercials.

      “THEY DO EXIST!” *clutch* *faint*

      And I’m the poor Yellow M&M standing there trying to figure out what all the fuss is about.

  • Bryan

    I love how everyone is debating on the “secular fundamentalists” quote but nobody noticed this  “France bowed to the god of reason when it adopted its Constitution. Our forefathers founded a Christian nation based on the teachings of Jesus. The difference is plain.”  This is just crazier than the other thing. 

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

       I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that saw that line and had their inner historian collapse and start spinning about like a top.

      France modeled much of their revolution on the US revolution and neither side of the pond was basing their nations on any sort of religious teachings.  Secularism held equal import to both countries during their breakaway from their respective monarchies.

  • Joe Zamecki

    Yet more good reasons to attend an NDOR demo of some kind near you. Here in Austin, Texas, at the state capitol building downtown, some of us reasonable folks will be out on the sidewalk with some signs, doing a demo in support of the NDOR. It’ll also be in support of state/church separation. If this issue seems important enough to send online messages about it to the other side, it ought to inspire folks to come out in person, to a demo of some kind. We do this every year here in Austin, and it’s always fun. Important too! Here’s video of last year’s Austin demo: http://youtu.be/qrQE-x80qPc 

  • Comfishoes

    Thank god it’s not April 1st.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X