The Enlightenment Day Manifesto

Wouldn't it be nice to celebrate a holiday that didn’t preach at you all the time?

Far too often, holidays are used as tools of social control. Their celebration, though happy for some, becomes a dreaded obligation for others.

We’re told not only that we must participate in these holidays, but that as we do so, we must do it in the particular way dictated by those religious zealots who have appointed themselves in positions of Defenders of the Season. They seek to draw us back into the terrible old ways, when religious wars brought the terror of holy inquisitors with torture and death for those who did not sufficiently follow the traditions of sacred observances with sufficient precision.

Now, we have in Donald Trump a President who has taken it upon himself to use the might of the federal government of the United States of America to compel Americans to observe the holiday of Christmas as a form of Christian worship.

In an official presidential speech, Donald Trump declared that the United States of America celebrates Christmas in order to worship “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”, a “gift of God”, invoking the supernatural Christian deity to “ask for God’s blessings”.

In case there was any misunderstanding of the theocratic nature of the event, the White House issued a press release announcing, “President Trump revives the tradition’s religious spirit”.

In another speech, President Trump has declared that, “Above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government. We worship God!… I remind you, that we’re going to start staying ‘Merry Christmas’ again!”

Christmas isn’t a neutral holiday of cheer that everyone can agree upon - not when it’s being used as a weapon in this way. Christmas has become politicized. Through Christmas, America’s politics are being used to divide people by religion.

The new elites are Christians celebrating Christmas. The rest of us are being made outsiders in our own country.

We cannot participate in this attack upon freedom conscience. So, on December 25, we celebrate Enlightenment Day.

We choose December 25 not just to provide an alternative to Christmas, but also in commemoration of the birth of Isaac Newton, who was born on December 25, 1642. Newton’s ideas, along with those of his contemporaries, sparked the Enlightenment that made possible the freedom and progress that we enjoy today.

Enlightenment Day does not demand observance or obedience.

Enlightenment Day does not require belief.

Enlightenment Day celebrates the balance of reason and imagination.

Reason isn’t about deciding what’s true and then insisting that the rest of the world accept that version of the truth. Reason is a process of exploration, questioning, doubt, testing, and refinement.

Imagination doesn’t require other people to comply with its vision. It’s a playful experience that enables us to consider other points of view without fear of punishment. It allows us to perceive new possibilities. It’s an immersion in the feeling of what some people call sacred, but is sufficiently confident to refrain from intrusion into the real world. Imagination informs our sense of of beauty and inspires us to create without needing to become ploddingly literal.

In the balance between these two ideals, we celebrate both science and art. We realize that when imagination is uncoupled from reality, it leads us into hideous violence in pursuit of delusion. On the other hand, we see that the power of reason causes terrible suffering when it is accompanied by a failure of imagination.

The Enlightenment was not an historic event that took place hundreds of years ago. The Enlightenment is a process, always imperfect, but always improving itself.

On Enlightenment Day, the work of the Enlightenment continues.

On December 25, we don’t observe Enlightenment Day with vain praise of our own certain beliefs.

We embrace doubt. We seek beauty. We contemplate questions. We discuss with open minds.

We celebrate a free society in which all people can pursue, with both logic and inspiration, the articulation of their own ideas a better world could be.