National Day of Reason is celebrated annually on the first Thursday in May. It is a secular — and legal — U.S. holiday that was established as a response to the National Day of Prayer. This holiday is for every person who does not recognize God or an established religion or faith. The key message behind this day is to provide a positive, inclusive alternative to the National Day of Prayer, valuing the separation of religion and government at the same time. This day is also meant to build a community among the non-religious in the U.S.
History of National Day of Reason
Since time immemorial, various days have been designated for prayer and religious observances. People called for prayer, fasting, and giving thanks.
This is where the National Day of Prayer stems from. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman established this religious holiday, in which people are asked to turn to God in prayer and meditation. However, as religions diverged from previously established paths, an ideology of inclusivity took hold. Many people of America did not believe in any religion and thus, couldn’t celebrate this holiday. And so, our special day was born.
The American Humanist Association banded together with the Washington Area Secular Humanists to create a secular holiday for all those atheists, humanists, secularists, and those who can’t celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
While the celebrations (and popularity) increased slowly over time, many more local and state governments are giving this day official recognition.
Celebrations have taken the form of blood drives, secular events and activities, and in some cases, protests against the National Day of Prayer. This day has also received support from politicians like Mayor Jean Stothert (Omaha, Nebraska), who supported the National Day of Reason by signing a proclamation, and Pete Stark, who also supported the day in the House of Representatives.
These celebrations fall in the Secular Week of Action when people volunteer to make the world a better place.
National Day of Reason timeline
To give non-religious people a reason to celebrate, the American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists found National Day of Reason; it is held in close proximity to National Day of Prayer.
New York City-based Center for Atheism strongly advocates for more positive celebrations; the entire group decides to donate blood on National Day of Reason.
Representative Pete Stark supports a proclamation for National Day of Reason in the House of Representatives.
Representative Jared Huffman sponsors another resolution to officially designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Reason.
Representative Jamie Raskin introduces a resolution to designate May 7, 2021, as the National Day of Reason, in the U.S. House of Representatives; it is co-sponsored by six fellow Congressional Freethought Caucus members.
National Day of Reason FAQs
What is the reason for a National holiday?
A national holiday can have different meanings for different regions. For some, it marks the nationhood of that nation or state; for others, it is a day of significance or a day of independence.
When is the National Day of Prayer?
National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday of May, as designated by the U.S. Congress.
What special days are on the first Thursday in May?
Apart from the National Day of Prayer and the National Day of Reason, we also celebrate World Password Day.
How to Observe National Day of Reason
Check out local celebrations
Several organizations hold food and blood drives, donations, and other activities on this day. Go ahead and volunteer for the ones you prefer.
Organize a letter-writing campaign
Have National Day of Reason declared an official celebration by your local government if they haven't done this already. Talk to community leaders and local people to get more support for your cause.
Visit the official website
Sign up as an endorser on the official National Day of Reason website, read media coverage of previous years' celebrations, and view upcoming planned events.
5 Important Facts About Religion And Governance
God's not in the U.S. constitution
The U.S. Constitution does not mention God, but references appear in state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, and even on U.S. currency.
Religion in the current congress
In 2019, a majority — around 88% — of representatives in the current congress identified as Christian.
63% of Americans dislike religion and politics intermingling
76% say houses of worship should not even endorse political candidates.
Religion shouldn't influence policies
A 2017 survey showed that 65% of respondents believed religion should be kept out of government policies.
Famous presidents and their religious affiliation
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln had no formal religious affiliation; almost all the others were Christian.
Why National Day of Reason is Important
We celebrate reason
Logic and rational thinking are at the center of a secular democracy. So we look at this day as a way to honor reason and its separation from religion.
Reason itself is a crucial tool
When we confront humanity's most complex and pressing issues, we need 'reason' to back us up. So observing a day that quite literally celebrates reason is a gift.
It leads the way to an inclusive future
A country that accepts and celebrates every kind of person, culture, and religious or non-religious affiliation is a truly inclusive country. National Day of Reason takes us in this direction.
National Day of Reason dates