Posts Tagged ‘participation’
Ellen Johnson started the American Atheist 34th Conference this Good Friday morning. Her introduction consisted of voting on atheist issues, upholding the constitution with threat of litigation and protest, and to participate in secularist issues to inspire others to do so.
The game of chicken is one of perception to “see who blinks first”. In that sense with 11% of the electorate being atheist her aim is to have a block vote that politicians cannot ignore. The figures she cited had that vote being 43% Democrat, 27% independent, and 20% Republican.
However there was no mention of how intensely that 11% view secularist issues when deciding which political candidate to vote for, or how crucial. The idea that the vote can be mobilized in that fashion is not one that seems practical – issues like economy, education, and health care will be more dominant issues when people cast their vote relative to secularist issues.
However, secularists being more involved with the decision making process would make a difference – and it was good to hear that the American Atheists have a fund that will endorse atheist candidates , whether Senators or people running for local districts. That, together with encouraging individuals to report and take action on unconstitutional activity, is one form of civic action which would make a real difference and seems like an efficient allocation of time and resources.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick”. One way was to be involved in ways that perhaps some atheists would seem perverse like National Bible Week. Yet that is an example where we can have fun – “an important way to do something with less stress” mentioning certain favourite passages (mine being the bears being called on by God to kill children that dared insult his prophet by calling him baldy). It reminded me of a bumper sticker:
I have read the bible. That is why I am an atheist
A big part for Ellen was mentioning that people did not have to feel like a victim, and she conjured up images of Rosa Park and even talked about atheists feeling excluded at gatherings due to religion being used in the public space as “atheist cleansing” to make us leave. I would not agree with the emotional usage of such terms. In no way is the situation comparable to the civil rights struggle, gay rights or indeed ethnic cleansing. True we can learn much from the campaigns but the idea that we are victims is not a mentality I would want seen promoted among us or expect others to agree with.
We are atheists and we do not want government imposing faith claims upon our way of life or in public policy and implementation.
Special thanks to Trevor Haldenby for the photo from the conference.