Every election season for nearly two decades now, I’ve seen articles about how Secular Americans are trying to harness our numbers. We know the political power of the Christian Right, but as more Americans shed their faith and declare “No Religion,” the question becomes whether that will translate into a similar political movement.
The answer has almost always been no.
In 2016, according to PRRI, the “Nones” were 25% of the population, but represented only 15% of voters.
We’re not pulling our weight, and that helps explain why our government is currently in the hands of conservative Christians. (Not entirely, though, 25% of the Nones backed Donald Trump.)
An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday was all about how atheists are trying to fix that discrepancy. It’s not easy, in part because even though we agree about God, we don’t necessarily agree about everything else.
A coalition of secular organizations is now determined to close that gap. This summer, they kicked off a nationwide voter registration drive, which will culminate with a get-out-the-secular-vote campaign in the fall. Their goal is also to politically galvanize nonbelievers around issues like separation of church and state and access to abortion.
To reach that goal, groups involved in the Secular America Votes campaign are searching for nonbelievers in areas where they may be likely to gather.
Actually, they’re going to colleges. Lots of colleges.
It’s all important and I hope it brings more voters into the fold. While the secular groups aren’t partisan, there’s no doubt advocating for church/state separation and women’s rights, in this political time, means backing Democrats and only Democrats. So if they’re registering voters in swing districts, there’s a good chance those voters will ultimately support the more liberal candidates.
It would be even better if the politicians themselves reached out to us (through those organizations or public statements) and asked for our votes because they were in Washington defending church/state separation and (actual) religious freedom. We’re not quite there yet. We’re still a liability. Most politicians take our votes for granted because, well, who else are we going to support?
But if more Secular Americans voted, politicians would have no choice but to treat us with the sort of reverence they give evangelicals. They would have to defend our shared values or risk losing our vote. For now, we need to show them we have their backs. Then we can demand they have ours.
If you’re interested in the Secular America Votes campaign, consider holding a voter registration drive in your own community. All the details are right here.