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May 02 2013

Happy National Day of Reason

Today is the official National Day of Prayer, declared so by congressional decree. As an alternative, the American Humanist Association has also declared it to be the National Day of Reason. And one of the supporters of this idea is Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina and the nominee to be the next secretary of transportation.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who President Barack Obama tapped Tuesday to be the next transportation secretary, just declared Thursday “A Day of Reason” in his home city, and asked Charlotte’s citizens to observe the day.

May 2 is traditionally the National Day of Prayer, a government-designated religious event intended to encourage people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.” Foxx separately issued a “National Day of Prayer” proclamation for the city of Charlotte.

Foxx said in his proclamation that May 2 should be A Day of Reason because “the application of reason, more than any other means, has proven to offer hope for human survival on Earth.”

Oh man, you know the wingnuts are going to absolutely lose their minds over this. This is the guy President Obama just nominated for his cabinet and you just know that his advocacy of reason will be turned into advocacy of godless communism and make him the second coming of Adolf Hitler.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    Synfandel

    Pardon my legal ignorance–I’m not an American–but wouldn’t a government-sanctioned ‘day of prayer’ be a violation of the first amendment?

  2. 2
    Abby Normal

    Time to pop the popcorn. I’m particularly looking forward to all the sophisticated arguments for why declaring a Day of Reason is a terrible abuse of power while a Day of Prayer is vital to our liberty.

  3. 3
    Abby Normal

    @Synfandel

    In a nutshell, the courts have consistently held that such declarations are acceptable, primarily because they’re non-binding. They might also need to be general enough not to promote any specific religion. But on that second point I’m less sure. Anyway they’ve always been a part of our country, ever since the Continental Congress declared the first one 1775. These days we get a dozen or so of them a year.

  4. 4
    =8)-DX

    the second coming of Adolf Hitler.

    That’s Obama, silly. Perhaps Foxx could be the second coming of Stalin or Mao.

  5. 5
    lldayo

    I had to do a double take when I saw the state was North Carolina. It just seemed out of place.

  6. 6
    dogmeat

    @Synfandel,

    Abby’ is correct. The argument has been made that these efforts are violations of the establishment clause, and argument that I happen to consider valid. The courts have generally declined to hear these cases and/or ruled that these activities are benign enough not to constitute establishment and/or “tradition” that for some reason provides insulation from constitutional limitations. Lower courts have, at times, ruled against these activities, but they’ve been overturned by higher courts.

  7. 7
    cottonnero

    It is (as far as I understand it) similar to the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on money: the courts have generally ruled that it doesn’t count because of tradition or vagueness or lack of standing or any reason or none.

  8. 8
    Modusoperandi

    It’s just simple ceremonial deism. Now, let us pray in the name our Lord Jesus Christ.

  9. 9
    tommykey

    This is the guy President Obama just nominated for his cabinet and you just know that his advocacy of reason will be turned into advocacy of godless communism and make him the second coming of Adolf Hitler.

    Yep, Fox News already had on some wingnut lady from Concerned Women For America who claims that reason and the Enlightenment led to the Holocaust.

  10. 10
    Pierce R. Butler

    If Tony Perkins, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, et al, take up this issue, I’d put the odds at 60-40 that Obama withdraws the nomination.

  11. 11
    Leo Buzalsky

    “You just know that his advocacy of reason will be turned into advocacy of godless communism and make him the second coming of Adolf Hitler. ”

    Yep.

    “You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust… Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation.”

  12. 12
    Skip White

    “You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust… Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation.”

    Of course, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason also inspired those all-important Founding Fathers. And don’t get me started on the Dark Ages.

  13. 13
    typecaster

    Synfandel – It turns out that you can get proclamations on almost anything. Several years ago, a science-fiction convention traditionally held in Michigan moved to Toledo one year due to hotel availability. One of the committee members went to their state congresscritter and got a resolution passed declaring Toledo to be part of Michigan that week. This caused even less trouble than the first Michigan-Ohio war over Toledo, if that can be imagined.

  14. 14
    tomh

    @ #3

    These days we get a dozen or so of them a year.

    I don’t know what you mean by a dozen or so a year. Today’s proclamation is mandated by federal law, 36 USC Sec. 119, which reads, “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

  15. 15
    Taz

    “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

    That brings up a couple of questions:
    1. What if the president refuses to issue such a proclamation?
    2. Does this imply that the people of the US may NOT turn to God, etc. any other day?

  16. 16
    tomh

    @ #15

    hehe, #2 is what I first thought of also. As far as the President refusing to issue the proclamation, one of his duties spelled out in the Constitution is; “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Refusing to follow the law would be a problem. No, the issue is with the law itself, not with the President issuing the proclamation.

  17. 17
    Abby Normal

    @ tohm #14

    I don’t know what you mean by a dozen or so a year.

    I mean that several times a year, somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve, a legislative body or executive that supposedly represents me issues a proclamation for a day of prayer.

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