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Rational Day of Thought - National Day of Reason

First Thursday in May

The National Day of Reason is a day when all Americans can come together to celebrate rational thinking. Anybody can take part in this inclusive day, regardless of their worldview.

The National Day of Reason began as a secular response to the federally-supported National Day of Prayer, which is viewed as discriminatory and unconstitutional. In 2003 national leaders from within the "community of reason"-- representing groups identitified as atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and Brights --endorsed a National Day of Reason to be held in parallel with the National Day of Prayer, on the first Thursday in May. The goal is to celebrate reason and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.

The Day of Reason also serves to inspire the community of reason to be visible and active as a group working to help society. Community groups can heed Robert Ingersollís advice that "The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray" by holding practical events to benefit people in their local community.

Local organizations might use "Day of Reason" to label their events, or they might choose labels such as Day of Action, Day of Service, or Rational Day of Care. The important message is to provide a positive, useful, constitutional alternative to the exclusionary National Day of Prayer.

Activity Suggestions

Contact your elected officials

Write to the US president and your national governor explaining why they should not proclaim a Day of Prayer. You can also ask them to proclaim a more inclusive Day of Reason. A sample Day of Reason proclamation can be found here.

Get Media Attention

Press releases and media alerts can gain media attention that will help to promote the ideas behind the National Day of Reason. You can focus on the positive aspects of the Day of Reason as an inclusive event to help the community, or you can highlight a protest or demonstration against the government endorsement of Prayer Day. An example of a press release criticizing the National Day of Prayer is available here.

Examples of media coverage mentioning the National Day of Reason are available here.

Rational Day of Care

Activist efforts to present a positive alternative to the Day of Prayer have tagged the celebration with other titles, such as the "Rational Day of Care" to more openly address the positive actions underway. For example, the Ethical Society of Philadelphia's Day of Caring is organized to donate home-cooked meals to the Aid for Friends project, which distributes these meals to the elderly, frail and disabled. Whatever you decide to do, notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is doing this and why.

Organize a Blood Drive

One of the largest coordinated efforts to provide secular help on the Day of Reason was organized in 2007 by the Atheist Volunteers' nationwide "Gift of Life Day" blood drive and organ donation sign-up. Scores of groups and hundreds of individuals joined in. Starting a Gift of Life Day is easy for a community group with members willing and able to give blood.

    Here's what you do:
  1. Go to AmericasBlood.org or GiveLife.org and type in your zip code to find your local blood bank.
  2. Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation. You will find them extremely supportive and accommodating.
  3. Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is doing this and why. It's important to alert them long before the event. A sample press release is available here.

The Thinker's Annual Banquet

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries, thinkers of all sorts would gather together at each other's homes or in coffee shops and meeting halls to discuss the subjects and social issues that were of interest. Ideas were proposed, theories explained, poems and literature recited and a good time was had by all. The overall purpose of the gathering was to provide an intellectually stimulating conversation for all. Have one of your own!

Distribute Thoughts

Grab a stack of blank business cards and place a "thought" on each and then distribute them widely within your community. Quotes, discoveries, inventions, philosophical statements and historical lessons make great fodder for the "thought."

Also consider "thinker" cards or like the skit from Monty Python "conversation starters" that can be distributed as a part of an activity to stimulate thought between pre-assigned partners or groups. Mind puzzles, riddles, problem-solving and other activities that require thought can also be placed on cards and distributed.

Event Resources:

National Day of Reason (main website)

National Day of Reason (events)

Sample National Day of Reason Proclamation

What's Wrong with the National Day of Prayer