National Day of Reason

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National Day of Reason
Observed byUnited States secular humanists
DateFirst Thursday in May
2021 dateMay 6  (2021-05-06)
2022 dateMay 5  (2022-05-05)
2023 dateMay 4  (2023-05-04)
2024 dateMay 2  (2024-05-02)
Related to
A National Day of Reason protest in Oklahoma City

The National Day of Reason is a secular celebration for humanists, atheists, secularists, and freethinkers.[1][2] The day is celebrated annually on the first Thursday in May, in response to the statutory observance of a National Day of Prayer in the United States, which many atheist and secular groups deem unconstitutional.[3] The purpose of the National Day of Reason is to "celebrate reason—a concept all Americans can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship."[4] The National Day of Reason is also meant to help build community among the non-religious in the United States.[5]


The National Day of Reason was created by the American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists in 2003.[6] In addition to serving as a holiday for constitutionalists and secularists, the National Day of Reason was created in response to the perceived unconstitutionality of the National Day of Prayer.[4] According to the organizers of the National Day of Reason, the National Day of Prayer, "violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution because it asks federal, state, and local government entities to set aside tax dollar supported time and space to engage in religious ceremonies".[6]

In 2005, the New York City–based Center for Atheism began to strongly advocate for observers of the National Day of Reason to celebrate in a positive manner.[7] They decided to donate blood as a group in order to make a "public statement about the life-affirming ideas of nonbelievers."[7]

The National Day of Reason has taken some time to gain popularity, however, over time, more local and state governments have been giving the Day of Reason official recognition.[8] In 2011 and 2012, Representative Pete Stark supported a proclamation in support of the National Day of Reason in the United States House of Representatives.[5] For the first time, a resolution to honor the National Day of Reason was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.[9] The resolution, U.S. House Resolution 228, was proposed by Representative Mike Honda on April 29, 2015.[10] Another resolution to designate the National Day of Reason was sponsored by Representative Jared Huffman in 2018.[11]


Humanists, atheists and agnostics held this event in support of the separation of church and state. and as a protest to the government endorsed National Day of Prayer on May 6, 2010.
Humanists, atheists and agnostics held this event in support of the separation of church and state, and as a protest to the government endorsed National Day of Prayer, on May 6, 2010.

Several organizations associated with the National Day of Reason have organized food drives and blood donations, while other groups have called for an end to prayer invocations at city meetings.[12][13][14] Other organizations, such as the Oklahoma Atheists and the Minnesota Atheists, have organized local secular celebrations as alternatives to the National Day of Prayer.[15] Additionally, many individuals affiliated with these atheistic groups choose to protest the National Day of Prayer.[16]

Some politicians have supported the National Day of Reason. In Omaha, Nebraska, Mayor Jean Stothert signed a proclamation supporting the National Day of Reason and urging all citizens to "promote the development and application of reason. Her proclamation never once mentions a non belief in God or Prayer."[17] City governments who affirm the National Day of Prayer have also been asked to consider affirming the National Day of Reason as well.[18]


  1. ^ Lucy Madison (May 5, 2011). "National Day of Prayer sparks celebrations, protests". CBS News. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  2. ^ National Day of Reason Celebrated as an Alternative to National Day of Prayer Archived 2008-02-26 at the Wayback Machine American Humanist Association Press Release
  3. ^ Niose, David (2012). Nonbeliever nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 173–175. ISBN 9780230338951.
  4. ^ a b Wackrow, Richard E. (7 May 2015). "National Day of Prayer, National Day of Reason". Missoulian. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b Stanley, Paul (30 April 2012). "National Day of Reason Set to Compete With 2012 Day of Prayer". Christian Post. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b "About Us". National Day of Reason. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b McGowan, Barry (2012). How to Separate Church and State: A Manual from the Trenches. Alburtis, Pennsylvania: Hufton Mueller, LLC. p. 138. ISBN 9780615638027.
  8. ^ Bruinius, Harry (1 May 2014). "On National Day of Prayer, Growing Ranks Say "Reason" Should Have Its Day, Too". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  9. ^ Viviano, JoAnne (7 May 2015). "Faithful Remember Military, Others on National Day of Prayer". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  10. ^ Miller, Merrill (29 April 2015). "National Day of Reason Resolution Introduced for the First Time in U.S. House of Representatives". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  11. ^ Halstead, Richard (2 May 2018). "Huffman counters Trump with proposed National Day of Reason". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  12. ^ "Events". National Day of Reason. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  13. ^ Bronstein, Ken (2006). "Counter 'Day of Prayer' with Positive Action". Positive Atheism. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  14. ^ Janet Zinc (May 6, 2010). "On National Day of Prayer, atheists renew call to end invocations at Tampa city meetings". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  15. ^ "Minnesota Atheists". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  16. ^ "National Day of Reason May 5, 2011". Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  17. ^ Mehta, Hemant (3 May 2015). "Omaha Mayor Issues "Day of Reason" Proclamation". Friendly Atheist. Patheos. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  18. ^ Anderson, Michelle D (22 April 2015). "Request to Recognize National Day of Prayer Highlights Schism among Roosevelt Park City Council". MLive Media Group. Retrieved 7 May 2015.

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