According to countless billboards across the country, May 21, 2011 is the beginning of the end. Those who believe Christian radio evangelist Harold Camping are preparing for the Rapture. But one group who doesn’t believe Camping — or any other religious leader — is preparing to lobby in Washington, D.C.
The Secular Coalition for America is organizing a gathering on Saturday against what they call the “theocratic agenda.” Over 100 atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nonbelievers will lobby lawmakers to strengthen their commitment to the Constitutional separation of church and state.
Sean Faircloth, the Coalition’s executive director, argues that religious institutions are overstepping the government’s secular boundaries and influencing too much policy in the Capitol.
“More and more Americans reject the theocratic political agenda that opposes gay marriage, blocks stem-cell research, and injects religious bias in our armed services,” Faircloth told NationalJournal.com. “Secular Americans can no longer watch from the sidelines.”
The “Rapture Weekend” political summit will include guest speakers such as American Atheists president David Silverman and Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. Strategic discussion panels are also planned.
One of the group’s ultimate goals is to foster a political climate that is more receptive of nontheist candidates. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans would not vote for an atheist candidate who was otherwise well qualified.
Although the SCA says this weekend’s summit is the first of its kind, it won’t be the last. The organizers intend to host biennial events in Washington — well, provided Harold Camping’s prophesy doesn’t come true. Perhaps they should make a donation to Rapture Relief, just in case.
Photo credit: Victor Martinez