You Call It National Day Of Prayer, Stark Calls It Something Different

By Steven Tavares
@eastbaycitizen on twitter

The first Thursday of May was designated as a National Day of Prayer by Congress nearly 50 years ago, but hold on, said Rep. Pete Stark, the only Atheist legislator in Washington. Instead, he stood on the floor of the House of Representatives today and proclaimed it a National Day of Reason.

The irascible East Bay lawmaker said frank and thoughtful debate through reason led to the drafting of the Constitution and has been used to further enhance American ideals over time, “Reason and rational discourse have the power to improve living conditions around the world and cultivate intelligent, moral, and ethical interactions among people,” said Stark, who also noted the Constitution’s framers, through the separation of church and state, intended to rely on reason as a guide.

Earlier this week, Stark also applied a slight tweak to the religious right reintroducing a bill to cut federal funding to states that continue to employ discriminatory laws against gay, lesbian and single people in the adoption and foster care process.

Stark describes himself as a Unitarian, although his disbelief in an all-knowing deity has not affected his chances of re-election. The 38-year House veteran beat his Republican opponent last November with 70 percent of the vote.

Although turning to a higher power may be a popular way of coping with many of the problems facing Americans these day, Stark says there is also salvation in reason. “Our nation faces many problems—ending two wars, creating jobs, educating our children, tackling our budget, and protecting our safety net,” he said. “Although the gravity of these issues may drive many to prayer, the way we will solve them is through the application of reason.”