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Thousands Rally For a Secular America

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 ‘Reason Rally‘ on the National Mall drew 20,000 and hundreds lobbied Congress.

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.

Related stories:

The Woman Who Separated Church From State

Atheist Billboards in Arabic and Hebrew Target Muslims and Jews

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107 comments

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5:59AM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

Tim L. wrote: Religion is like a penis: It's fine to have one and it's fine to be proud of it, but please don't whip it out in public and start swinging it around and stop trying try to shove it down everyone elses throat!

And I say, Amen to that!!!
Juanita G. – what utter drivel you spout – word for word, straight from the Roman Catholic papist brain-wash machine. What’s the matter? Not capable of thinking for yourself? Please try – you’d be a better person for it.

Religion – ALL Religion – is man-made. And I mean precisely that. MAN-made. By men, for men, manipulated by men, for the benefit of men.

Religion is not about faith or spirituality. One can be spiritual without practising a religion. One can have faith without having a religion. Spirituality and faith are about what you have in your heart and the connections you have with the world outside of yourself. They are about bringing peace to yourself by being at peace with, and having respect for, everything and everyone in this world. And that journey we should all take to achieve that end should be a private matter between you/ your heart/your soul, and your god/higher power/higher conscience, whatever you wish to call it. Not something you shout from the rooftops and try to force on everyone else. And respecting others means allowing them to find and follow their own path, not yours.

9:41PM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

While religion, especially Christianity Judiasm and Islam are being seen as being insular, violent and Intolerant of others; rational people will not want to have anything to do with it. As for me, I am becoming more and more disappointed with religion and all the hate and bigotry that seems to go with it.

1:37PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

"Darwinian academic and author Richard Dawkins" - REALLY weird thing to introduce a scientist as.

Calling someone "Darwinian" is pretty out-dated, as evolutionary theory has undergone much development since Darwin's days, as well as a fusion with genetics, that produce the "modern synthesis". Practically nobody (exept creationists) talk about "darwinians" anymore.

It's a bit like calling an astronomer a "round-earthian" - it is OBVIOUS and given that an astronomer would accept the fact of the rough shape of the Earth, just as it is obvious that callign someone a "biologist" includes with almost 100% certainty that they accept modern evolutionary theory.Sure, there are a handful of exceptions, but so few as not to merit calling anyone a "Darwinist", even if the term wasn't obsolete.

But as to the reason rally - nice to see people who don't subscribe to any particular religion in the US standing up and making themselves heard.

9:02AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Oops, "you're" and "they're" ...what awful spelling!

7:45AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Awesome! Need to keep it going though you've got some very dangerous religious politics going on in the good ol' US of A. You only need to look at abortion rights and contraception and what's happening in that arena to watch the hard line repressive nutjobs crawling out of the woodwork and always in the name of 'gawd' !! Well done xxx

5:29AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Julie: I agree with your points. People also assume that "so help me God" is a legal part of oaths to serve in the US govt--but that part was personally added by George Washington as a sort of "amen" ending. Constitutionally, it's not in there! However, when I worked for the US Census in 2010 I had the WORST time because I refuse to say "so help me God". All I wanted to do was add the second syllable. You know I was forbidden from doing so? AND, get this, the people issuing the oath did NOT have a copy (you have to sign a page with the oath on it) of the straight version as it is in the Constitution--so I was singled out and pressured by a room full of folks who had no problem with the GW version. Because I won't swear an oath to "god" to work a job! People were FURIOUS at me for asserting my right to a secular oath! Only one person joined me--an atheist--who wouldn't swear by god either. What really surprised me is that they were adamant I not just add the "ess"--they claimed it would not be legal. Talking about the prime point of needing more secularization in government. No one should be publically shamed because s/he won't swear by the Christian god to work, even temporarily, for the US govt! Christianity and the US Census are not the same thing!

2:34AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Government and religion is a bad mix.

1:54AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Laurel R. and Tim R.: I'd send you green stars, but I can't because I don't have any friends here and I haven't uploaded a picture yet. Tim L.: Love your penis-religion analogy.

I haven't decided if I'm athesist, agnostic, or Wiccan...but I do know that church and state are like oil and water, they don't mix.

The U.S. motto used to be "Ex pluribus unum" Latin for "out of many, one". I think we need to go back to that. Also need to get rid of the "under God" from the Pledge of Alligence.

There's a new theory about the Salem Witch Trials. The whole thing was started as a way for Reverand Parris to keep his job.

I think one of the problems with Christians (all denominations) is that they don't know their own history. 2,000 women WERE priests, same-sex marriages WERE preformed.

Anyway, I have an aunt who thinks I'm going to Hell for what I believe, or rather don't believe. She also thinks astrology is Satanic. Guess The Three Wise Men will be joining me there.

Oh, Christmas shouldn't be a national holiday. Sorry, everybody.

P.S. Would someone here be my friend so I can send green stars? Geez, I sound like Mr. Rogers.

Try reading "God Against the Gods" and "The Harlot by the Side of the Road", both by Jonathan Kirch, and "The Dark Side of Christianity", can't remember the author.

12:03AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

What is the problem with keeping politics and religion separate. They are just a bad mix, worship on your own dime.

11:58PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Thanks!

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