I feel like I’ve been waiting to write a post like this for several years now. It’s about damn time.
For months now, Joe Biden‘s campaign has either actively supported or at least accepted support from various faith groups.
There are Muslims for Biden, Catholics for Biden, Hindu Americans for Biden, and even a broader Believers for Biden. Unofficially, there are also “Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris” and a coalition of hundreds of Christian leaders endorsing him. The campaign even hired an outreach director specifically for Jewish voters (who represent about 3% of the voting population).
There’s nothing wrong with any of that! Those groups are vital for a victory. That outreach also counters the argument frequently implied by Donald Trump and his supporters that people of faith are on his side while Democrats oppose them. That’s never been true. That’s especially not true this year.
That said, the one group that hasn’t seen any direct outreach from the Biden campaign — or Democratic presidential candidates in the past — is the fastest growing “faith” group in the country: Secular Americans.
Some of that is understandable. We don’t “congregate” in any one place, we don’t have “leaders” in the same way that religious groups do, and it could be political poison to actively court the “atheist vote.” But there’s still a way to do it: Biden’s policies already align with the values many non-religious people share. He supports church/state separation, accepts science, believes we ought to listen to experts in their fields, and isn’t beholden to the Religious Right. Biden supports the freedom of religion as well as the freedom to not believe at all.
And yet we haven’t seen the campaign emphasize that yet, at least not in a way meant to engage with Secular Americans specifically. I’ve argued before how that’s a mistake. Atheists overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates. 78% of us voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 compared to only 14% who backed Donald Trump. For agnostics, it was 68-23 in favor of Clinton. And for the rest of the “Nones,” it was 55-38 for Clinton.
The problem is that many of us don’t vote at all. If Secular Americans voted with the same zeal as conservative Christians, we would be a political force to be reckoned with. For all the talk of peeling away some white evangelical voters from Trump, it would be far more strategic to excite non-religious non-voters who could easily be convinced to support a candidate who doesn’t take his cues from one religious group, who supports evidence-based policies, who backs civil rights, and who supports actual religious freedom for everyone.
That’s finally happening.
Today marks the launch of Humanists for Biden.
(You may see several familiar faces in the introductory video…)
The launch of Humanists for Biden marks the first time that secular Americans have organized to fight alongside similar faith and conscience-based communities in support of a candidate for the nation’s highest office.
“The Biden-Harris campaign is working to create the most inclusive campaign and administration in the history of American politics, and we are honored to take part in this effort,” said Greg Epstein, chair of Humanists for Biden and Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The humanist community stands united with faith leaders in this effort to deliver a democracy where everyone counts, regardless of their beliefs,” continued Epstein. “We are excited to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in record numbers and will help ensure that come January, we swear in a new government of, by, and for the people.”
The launch comes a year after the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution acknowledging the “value, ethical soundness, and importance” of non-religious Americans.
So what does all this mean in practice?
The group will work from now until the final day of voting on November 3 to “engage and mobilize” Secular Americans, especially in swing states. (You can sign up here to help with phone banks, virtual events, and more.)
This Thursday evening, there will be a formal launch to the campaign, featuring Congressman Jared Huffman, a performance from The Flaming Lips (really!), and many others. You can register for that right here.
More than anything else, the group itself is a reminder that, while Democrats ought to take us seriously as a voting bloc, we have to be able to deliver the votes. Please consider signing up to help. Let’s get back to a secular government run by competent people who take science and reason seriously and work to make it even better from there.