Thousands Rally For a Secular America
American humanists, agnostics, atheists and secularists have had enough of their marginalization and the influence of evangelical Christians, so they rallied and lobbied in Washington over the weekend.
The Secular Coalition for America held training sessions for those wanting to lobby.
Star speaker was the Darwinian academic and author Richard Dawkins. He told the crowd:
“There are too many people in this country who have been cowed into fear of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics. We are far more numerous than anybody realizes.”
Around 15% of Americans tick the ‘no faith’ box, a percentage which is growing.
Event organizer David Silverman told CNN, ”We will never be closeted again. In years to come, the Reason Rally will be seen as the beginning of the end to the religious right’s grip.”
Other speakers included Adam Savage and Eddie Izzard.
Watch report from Al Jazeera:
Is Santorumism Creating Atheists?
Gay Catholic conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan thinks that it is Santorum-style Christianity that’s creating a new generation of atheists.
Why would it not? The way in which the next generation has been exposed to Christianity this past decade has been toxic to the faith. Christianism isn’t just corrosive of our political order; it is deeply destructive to Christianity itself. Go to any college campus and ask the uncommitted their views of Christianity. What I hear is intolerance, anger, anti-gay prejudice, sexual obsession, and hatred of Islam. How many people Rick Santorum has scared off Christianity for life is beyond reckoning. And the bile directed at gay people has been deeply damaging in getting across to people what Jesus’ message really was: which is, in many cases, almost the opposite of that of his current most prominent representatives in the media.
Sullivan points to a Peter Berger review of an article for Foreign Affairs [gated] by David Campbell and Robert Putnam. They argue that the growth of those, especially younger people who say they have no religious affiliation, is directly linked to the growth of the Religious Right.
They quote figures from the Pew Forum:
“Nones” are 23% of those who say they are Republicans or leaning toward the Republican party, but 55% of Democrats and those leaning toward that party. There is an even higher discrepancy among younger “nones.”
Another Pew poll shows that for the first time since they’ve been asking the question, that more Americans believe there is ‘too much religion in political speech’ than don’t.
Berger, however, points out that this is not just Catholics leaving because of attitudes from the hierarchy on sex, or reacting to the abuse crisis, nor is it just a backlash against evangelical influence — it’s also about those leaving mainline Protestantism. He writes:
Here, I think, there has been frustration with what my friend and colleague Thomas Luckmann long ago called “secularization from within”—the stripping away of the transcendent dimensions of the Gospel, and its reduction to conventional good deeds, popular psychotherapy and (mostly left-of-center) political agendas. Put differently: My hypothesis implies that some “nones” are put off by churches that preach a repressive morality, some others by churches whose message is mainly secular.
Sullivan agrees, seeing the decline in Christian affiliation in America as caused “by both the political temptation and degeneracy on the evangelical right and the failure of mainline Protestantism to advance a Christianity that is both at ease with modernity but also determined to transcend its false gods of money, celebrity, and power, and to require more from its adherents.”
Perhaps, but maybe another reason for this decline in religious affiliation is also due to increasing numbers making a positive declaration of non-faith, rather than a reactive one.
Picture by justpeace