What Do Secular Humanists And Atheists Want?

TheocratsThousands of Secular Humanists and Atheists will gather on the National Mall in Washington for Reason Rally on March 24. What do we want? We want to restore the values of our nation’s founders with a specific vision and plan for a Secular America.

In 2012 the Religious Right has veto power over one of two major political parties in the most powerful nation on earth. To win the Republican nomination all candidates must pledge allegiance to One Nation Under a Religious Right God. It’s Theocracy-palooza. Yet Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, said, “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right.” Why the change?

Shortly after the Republican convention in 1980, Ronald Reagan, stood before evangelical ministers in Dallas, declaring, “I know that you cannot endorse me” but “I endorse you.” This pivotal declaration, the culmination of effective organizing by the Religious Right, led to our current unprecedented moment in American history.

Often unnoticed by the media, theocratic laws have already been passed in Congress and legislatures throughout America.

In the 1970s the Religious Right got organized, winning seats on school boards, city councils, and in legislatures. The religio-industrial complex has real power. Religious bias in government is now widespread:

— theocratic laws endangering children (religious bias in faith-healing, child care, vaccination, corporal punishment)
— Stem cell research still thwarted by religion
— “Faith based initiatives” discriminating with tax money
— Vouchers funding schools discriminating with tax money
— Government money for Scouts discriminating against gay people and the non-religious. (Girl Scouts don’t discriminate).
— Religious bias in land use planning
— Fundamentalist bias in our military
— Religious bias in schools and textbooks
— Student loans funneling tax money to creationist colleges
— Religious bias impeding end of life autonomy
— Loopholes permitting the teaching of sexism in religious schools.

These laws harm thousands of real people, both religious and non-religious. Due to a federal loophole, there’s a separate legal standard in over 35 states for the misnamed “faith-healing” of children. Hundreds of children every year experience torture worse than Abu Ghraib, largely unnoticed.

While many secular activists shake their fist at a Home Depot manger with a plastic baby Jesus in the town square at Christmas time, there remain ignored many examples of human harm caused by religious bias in government.

Rather than religious bias, government must be guided by evidence and compassion. We must restore Jeffersonian values. We must work toward A Ten Point Vision of a Secular America:

1. Our military shall serve all Americans, religious and nonreligious, with no hint of bias or fundamentalist extremism coloring our military decisions at home or abroad.
2. Healthcare professionals shall fulfill their sworn professional oath to provide service to patients with no religious bias – or they must find another job.
3. Any federal- or state-funded program, whether offering services domestic or foreign, relating to reproductive health shall be based on public health, not religious bias or the denigration of women or sexual minorities.
4. There shall be no religious bias in employment, environmental or land-use law.
5. While marriage can be defined by a religion as that denomination chooses within internal ceremonies, government shall never impose a
religious bias on the definition of marriage.
6. When facing end of life choices, Americans shall be guaranteed control over our own bodies, not thwarted by religious bias.
7. America’s youth shall never be subjected to religious bias in education. If there’s one penny of government funds, there must not be one iota of religious propaganda.
8. There shall be no political bias against secular candidates for public office.
9. There shall be one consistent standard for the health and welfare of children, no matter the religion of a child’s parents, school, or child-care center. Religious extremists can do whatever they choose with their own bodies, but children shall be treated as human beings, not pawns to be sacrificed in the name of religion.
10. Medical, technical, and scientific innovation shall be dedicated to the health and advancement of our fellow citizens and must never be impeded by religious bias.

Is America still the Enlightenment nation, the idealistic forward-thinking nation that brought our species to the moon?

Secular Americans are patriotic Americans who share the values of Jefferson and Madison.

Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state.” Thanks to Rick Santorum’s indigestion, we all are reminded of John Kennedy’s great American values: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute …where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials.” But the problem goes far beyond Rick Santorum’s stomach. It pervades our legislatures and Congress.

Americans must no longer timidly avert our eyes from rising theocracy. Secular Americans — people like Brad Pitt, Warren Buffett, Jodie Foster, Bill Gates and George Clooney — know that this greatest of countries will move forward when we proceed based on Jeffersonian ideals. A Secular America is America at its best.

Sean Faircloth is author of Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It (Pitchstone Publishing, Feb 2012). Faircloth is Director of Strategy & Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, US.
Faircloth will be speaking at the Reason Rally, the largest gathering ever of atheists and secular humanists at the National Mall in Washington on March 24.
He has served for a decade in the Maine State Legislature, is an attorney, and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

33 Comments on "What Do Secular Humanists And Atheists Want?"

  1. Anomaly_of_Anomie | Mar 9, 2012 at 1:51 am |

    A lot of atheist propaganda on disinfo lately. What are we trying to prove here? Or disapprove, really. Time Magazine this week: “Only 4% of Americans identify as atheist or agnostic.” Not sure if that poll is accurate but small minorities sure talk loud.

    We blame organized religion for the existence of these arrogant and obnoxious little fuckers. May they rot in the womb of mother earth. Sincerely,The Gods 

    • PaganBuddhistHumanist | Mar 9, 2012 at 9:51 am |

      Atheist “propaganda”???
      I am not an Atheist… but why anyone would carry the water for religious fundamentalists is beyond me.  Granted.. some atheists can be as intolerant as many fundies can be.. but Atheists and humanists do MORE to protect EVERYONE’s rights.. including the majority of moderate religious groups to practice their religion BY FIGHTING FOR The separation of church and state.  If you are a moderate religious person.. say.. a Unitiarain, or Episcopalian, Methodist or whatever.. you would be served better by aligning yourself with Secular Humanists than radical Baptists or Radical Catholics or some other extreme religion.   The fact that there is a wide diversity of religions and spiritual practices and folks can explore thier freedom of thought and consciousness is due to separation of church and state!.. Remember that!!!

      • ZenMomColorado | Mar 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

        Amen, brother!  (tongue in cheek, from another humanistic buddhist.)  To Anomaly, there are more of us (people you would call non-christians) out here than you think.

  2. VaudeVillain | Mar 9, 2012 at 1:53 am |

    While I agree with most of the points, one does trouble me:

    “8. There shall be no political bias against secular candidates for public office.”

    The problem with this is that it equates to telling private citizens they may not make decisions based on their religious convictions. We already have a system is which there is no official barrier to entry for secular politicians, and countless atheists and humanists already hold major office throughout every level of government.

    If, for example, a Christian does not support an atheist’s bid for election, then that is their right REGARDLESS of whether I, or anyone else, agrees with their decision. A private citizen is free to hold any opinion they want for any or no reason, without being subject to the whims of anyone else; this right does not vanish simply because the topic is political in nature.

    • Marklar_Prime | Mar 9, 2012 at 3:50 am |

      Sorry but several state constitutions ban any atheist from holding public office under the shit stain logic that it is not a test for religion to insist you must believe in God

      Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1:
      Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.No
      person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil
      departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in
      any Court.

      Maryland, Article 37:

      That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for
      any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration
      of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe
      any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

      Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265:
      No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

      South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

      Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2 (PDF):

      No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and
      punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this

      Texas, Article 1, Section 4:

      No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any
      office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded
      from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he
      acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

      North Carolina, Article 6, Sec. 8:

      The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

      First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

      • That’s just scary as hell

      • VaudeVillain | Mar 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm |

        Any word on the last time one of those laws was actually enforced?

        • Marklar_Prime | Mar 10, 2012 at 12:12 am |

          2010: In Asheville, NC City Councilman Cecil Bothwell was sworn in as an atheist using an alternate oath without swearing upon the bible or making reference to “Almighty God” against the NC constitution. The constitution was not enforced but critics threatened to sue for his removal under the constitution.

          Avowed atheist Herb Silverman won an eight-year court battle in 1997
          when South Carolina’s highest court granted him the right to be
          appointed as a notary despite the state’s law.

          These laws are seldom tested and, of course, generally don’t hold up to scrutiny in light of the US Constitution but they still exist. The primary reason they are seldom tested though is that very few atheists fail too realize that open atheism tends to be political suicide and tend to stay in the closet, so to speak, when pursuing political careers.

  3.  good people and bad people are the same on both sides. good religious people don’t identify with the foxnews fundamentalists that give religious a bad name and the good atheists don’t identify with youtube bashers that give atheists a bad name

    • The difference though, is that the former often makes one a hypocrite, as if the often vague contradicting religious commandments don’t already do so.

  4. Redacted | Mar 9, 2012 at 2:54 am |

    I have always thought that we should believe as we believe. If what you believe makes you a stronger or happier person, then more power to you.

    As to what I want as an Atheist? I want these dumb ass crusading “Atheists” to shut their pie holes for a moment. I want peace, so you can practice as you do, and I may do so as well. I will take up arms to defend your faith as much as I will to defend my lack of faith. I have taken up arms in the past, so this is not an empty gesture.

    All I ask from the religious and the non religious is an understanding that as people, we must all exist together. So cut the rhetoric and break bread.

  5. DeepCough | Mar 9, 2012 at 3:01 am |

    I’m just gonna go for the after-party, that is, if it ain’t shut down by a SWAT Team.

  6. Some context as to what motivated the religious right to politicize:


  7. A Christian | Mar 9, 2012 at 7:26 am |

     “9. There shall be one consistent standard for the health and welfare of
    children, no matter the religion of a child’s parents, school, or
    child-care center. Religious extremists can do whatever they choose with
    their own bodies, but children shall be treated as human beings, not
    pawns to be sacrificed in the name of religion.”

    Except for the part where you can murder them if they are still in womb.

    They want freedom from religion, not freedom of religion, which are mutually exclusive.  Atheists, If you promise to apply all of these to the area of Darwinian evolution and Cosmological evolution then we have a deal.

    • VaudeVillain | Mar 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

      “They want freedom from religion, not freedom of religion, which are mutually exclusive.”

      You clearly have a different definition of “mutually exclusive” than… um… everyone else.

    • Marklar_Prime | Mar 10, 2012 at 12:17 am |

      Except for the part where you mutilate male children’s penises at birth to dedicate them to your blood thirsty God.

      If you promise to let us teach evolution in the church as part of your services and at your expense then YOU have a deal.

      There can be no freedom of religion without freedom from religion. Your warped interpretation is just assinine.

  8. Secular Humanist and Atheist | Mar 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |

    ‘Want,? (no question.)  ‘Not a goddamned thing,’ (no question.)

  9. The head of the the Spiritual Hierarchy, the Planetary Christ, would have little challenges with the above list.  His problem has been the resistance of hard line religious people, not secularists or atheists.  In the 1990s, he made appearances at hundreds of fundamentalist religious gatherings in a profound way and found an ofter angry/fearful response.  As to his perspective on religious leaders setting the agenda, his comment, through an associate, in 1989 was “world leaders, political and religious, have done nothing for the spiritual welfare of humanity.”

  10. Paul Panza | Mar 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

    Organized atheism, sounds bogus to me, as an atheist I have held hands with all other faith types on this planet in the name of peace without the need of a weapon, the military, the wealthy and either of the two criminal political parties of the USA. Believe what you want, beliefs are an illusion, if you can’t realize this, it’s your problem. I live in PA, USA ranked number 10 on hating atheists and rated number 3 in the nation for hate groups in general. I have a firm scientific grip on the non-existence of a supreme being, as well as understanding that Jesus the Beast Christ never existed anyone with a ounce of open mindedness knows that prayer does not work. The military and the government hide behind religion. They are weak and still need to evolve to a better level of consciousness.

  11. irreduciblecomplexity | Mar 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

    The government and the military sometimes pervert religion. I deduce that God exists based on scientific proof and personal experience with the power of prayer. Chinese Medicine and even Western Medicine agree that prayer does work. I agree there should be a separation of “church” and state- I do not agree that there should be a separation of God and state- there is a huge difference. If you do not believe in intelligent design, I suggest you read the work of nuclear physicist and MIT biologist, Gerald Schroeder. He wrote the book The Science of God and presents compelling evidence that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in the irreducible complexity of life and the mathematical impossibility of an ordered world out of randomness. I hate that self-righteous, ignorant, greedy and power hungry people have taken the banner of spirituality and manipulated to control people and violently amass empires. I believe in the Reverence for Life and I am tired of atheist type casting all believers as ignorant, unscientific, idiots. Probably, as tired as some of you are of the idiots who are so-called “believers.”

    • There is no scientific proof that any deities exist. By the very nature of what science is and what gods are, science will never be able to prove any gods. It is therefore entirely a matter of wishful thinkin… oh I mean faith. 

    • Marklar_Prime | Mar 10, 2012 at 12:28 am |

      I suggest you stop letting your imaginary friend select your reading material for you.

    • le acupuncturist | Mar 10, 2012 at 11:44 am |

      Sorry. But Chinese Medicine has absolutely nothing to do with prayer. It comes from principles based on observable phenomena and the Scientific Method. If you looks to its Taoist roots, you find expressions of Spiritual ideals, and perhaps other religious forms, but those aspects are divorced from the medicine. We are having enough trouble with credibility on our own, without confusing the issue by bringing prayer into the mix, thank you very much.

    • I hope you are not responsible for the torture, murder, and even suicide of bears and other animals for Chinese medicines.

  12. This is perfectly reasonable. Therefore it will of course be rejected by most of the American people because they are fucking stupid as hell.

  13. Anarchy Pony | Mar 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    But what about Germanic Paganism? We need to sacrifice unworthy rulers in order to avert catastrophe.
    We have a lot of catastrophe lately, and more than enough unworthy rulers to sacrifice. Congress, the Senate, the White House, various corporations, they all contain corrupt and unfit rulers just begging for it.

  14. Liquidself | Mar 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |

    newsflash:  atheism is a religious belief. You can run but you can’t hide.

    • “a-” means “without”. Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
      So if i don’t believe in Yahweh, Zeus, Ra, Santa Claus, etc., i’m believing they don’t exist? Then who delivers all those presents during Christmas?

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