The Reason Rally is necessary because secular Americans want to restore the values of our nation’s founders. As one of the speakers at the Reason Rally, I offer 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. Yet Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, said, “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right.” Why the change?
Shortly after the 1980 Republican convention, 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 history.
Often unnoticed by the media, theocratic laws, as I document in my book, 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. Religious bias in government is widespread:
— theocratic laws endangering children (religious bias in faith-healing, 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
— Religious bias in schools and textbooks
— Student loans funneling tax money to creationist colleges
— Religious bias impeding end of life autonomy
These laws harm thousands of people, 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 horrible suffering in the name of faith.
While 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.
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.
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 nation that brought our species to the moon? Secular Americans are patriotic Americans. Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state.” Thanks to Rick Santorum’s indigestion, we’ve all been reminded of John Kennedy’s clarion call: “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.” The problem goes far beyond Rick Santorum’s stomach — pervading our legislatures and Congress.
Americans must not avert our eyes from rising theocracy. Secular Americans — people like Brad Pitt, Warren Buffett, Gloria Steinem, Bill Gates and George Clooney — know our great nation will move forward when we proceed based on Jeffersonian ideals. This ten point vision is a positive vision. A secular America is America at its best.
Sean Faircloth is author of the new book “Attack of the Theocrats, How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It.” Faircloth is Director of Strategy & Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science US. An attorney, Faircloth served ten years in the Maine legislature and is one of the invited speakers to the March 24 Reason Rally.