More than any other means

Governor Chafee’s declaration of May 1 as Reason Day is really very cool.

Governor Chafee has proclaimed May 1 as “A Day of Reason’’ in Rhode Island.

His proclamation begins: “Whereas, the application of reason, more than any other means, has proven to offer hope for human survival upon Earth by cultivating intelligent, moral and ethical interactions among people and their among people and their environments….’’

“I, Lincoln D. Chafee, governor of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2014 as Day of Reason in Rhode Island and encourage all state residents to join me [in] recognizing the importance of this day.’’

Well yay. How nice to hear that.

The Humanists of RI and The Secular Coalition for RI say Chafee signed the proclamation at their request to help “raise awareness throughout the State of Rhode Island of the importance of Reason as a guiding principle of our secular democracy.’’  Chafee spokeswoman Faye Zuckerman did not dispute this characterization on Monday.

Timed to coincide with the “National Day of Prayer” on the first Thursday in May each year, the two groups say the goal of their own effort “is to celebrate reason—a concept all citizens can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.’’

All right. I’m impressed.

For the record:  Chafee also signed a proclamation declaring May 1 as a “Day of Prayer.”

Baby steps.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    RE: National Day of Prayer – this “event” truly has a despicable and ignominious pedigree:

    Back in the 1800s, when the cholera pandemics were decimating the populace all over Christendom, churches called for National Days of prayer, fasting, and humiliation in order to fight off the plague (which was almost as bad as the Black Death). England’s Parliament and several state governors across the US obliged during the first wave of infection (early 1830s) but when the scourge returned a few years later, the repeated exhortations for a national day of (stupidity) were turned down in England. During the first outbreak in the early 1830s, Pres. Andrew Jackson refused to declare a national day of prayer, fasting, and humiliation on the grounds of the principle of separation of church and state, but Pres. Zachary Taylor declared such a day in 1849 during the next wave of contagion – the US always lagged behind progress). And soon, the mechanism of transmission (contaminated water, mostly) was discovered by people of science. The churches contributed *NOTHING*.

    Nothing at all. In fact, by declaring that the disease was of divine origin and for the purpose of punishing “sin”, churches discouraged people from investigating. Wouldn’t such hubris demonstrate a sinful lack of respect for God and God’s ways??

    America at this time was caught up in a marked surge of religious fervor. Churches, their pastors, their sermons, and their tracts took up the “cause” of subduing cholera, and when the clergy spoke, their flocks listened. They were instructed that cholera was a consequence of sin; man had infringed upon the laws of God, and cholera was an inevitable and inescapable judgment. Pestilence, like war and famine, was, according to most clergymen, a “rod in the hand of God.” It demonstrated to man the power of the Lord and the futility of earthly values.

    Some went further. God sent cholera to “promote the cause of righteousness, by sweeping away the obdurant and the incorrigible and to drain off the filth and scum which contaminate and defile human society.” (From a sermon preached by Gardiner Spring in New York City in 1832) Filth. Scum. He was referring to people, the dead victims of cholera.

    Nice, huh? Isn’t it *interesting* that we can halt God’s wrath with antibiotics and forestall God’s judgment with immunizations?

    If you’re at all interested in the devastating cholera pandemics of the 1800s-early 1900s, here’s a great article with some wonderful illustrations:

    For more on the US reaction to the pandemics:

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