Bob Smietana‘s article in today’s edition of The Tennessean tackles two big issues for atheism-at-large: Is Secular Humanism a religion? And can atheists achieve any type of political power?
(My answers: No… and not anytime soon, but we have to try.)
The article comes a week after the Secular Coalition for America held a conference call for anyone in Tennessee who might want to start a statewide chapter:
Nick Curry, 24, of Nashville, who calls himself a secular humanist, hopes to join the local Secular Coalition chapter. He grew up Lutheran in Franklin but dropped out as a teenager because he stopped believing what his church taught about God.
Curry said he’s not hostile to people who believe in God. But he’s concerned about politicians who want to bring their religious beliefs into politics and about religious groups that get money from the state.
“Secular humanists don’t care what you believe,” he said. “That’s on you. But don’t bring that into public policy.”
Robert B. Talisse, professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt and author of “Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case for Respectful Disbelief,” said nonbelievers need a better public profile.
He said they are still seen as suspect by the public in general. Even simple things, like the Pledge of Allegiance, show atheists as outsiders.
“If you are somebody who doesn’t believe in God and who doesn’t believe that a nation can be under God — then you can’t pledge allegiance to your country,” he said.
He’s right, of course. That’s the perception people have of us, and we have to work hard to correct that. One way to do that is by getting actively involved in politics, proving to people that you don’t need God to be patriotic.
Even if we did that, though, I’m not sure it’ll be enough. As I mention in the piece, it’s not like atheists are automatically going to vote for an atheist candidate. Hell, we can’t even say we’ll vote for the Democrat. That’s the downside to being a collection of freethinkers — it’s hard to get politicians to listen to us when we can’t promise them we’ll vote as a bloc to get them re-elected.
(image via Shutterstock)