By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson September 26th, 2012
In Nonbeliever Nation (2012) David Niose, President of the American Humanist Association and vice president of the Secular Coalition for America makes a strong case Secular Americans.
It is hardly surprising that Niose has received praise from the so-called ”Arch-Atheist himself,” Richard Dawkins. Nor can this Heathen polytheist disagree with the basic premise, that the Religious Right has hijacked our country and that we need to mobilize to defend our secular way of government or lose it altogether.
I make this point about my own religion because Niose is at pains to clarify his terminology. He wants it understood that secular means “without religion”; it does not mean “anti-religion.” A modern liberal democracy like the United States is founded on the principle of secular government. Someone who is personally secular, on the other hand, lives without theistic religion. Some Secular Americans are atheists, some are agnostic. Some call themselves humanists. As a religious person myself, I am 100 percent in favor secular government without being personally secular.
Am I a Secular American? By Niose’s definition I am not. I am theistic. Helheim, I’m polytheistic! All gods exist. But I support the secular cause. Secularism as the author points out, is not anti-religion. The goal is a government without religion – not a people without religion. I have no qualms about lending my absolute and unwavering support to the author’s avowed cause, because an America that respects all religions and not just one, is far better for me than the Religious Right’s dream of theocracy that grants First Amendment protections to Christianity alone.
According to Niose, a “Secular American” is no one thing. Defining Secular American is as difficult as defining a Christian, or a Pagan for that matter. There are gray areas, as there always are. But he makes a rough guess at the numbers of Secular Americans, putting a conservative figure at about 15 percent – or 50 million people. There are certainly enough Secular Americans to make themselves heard and Niose does make a strong argument for the emergence of a secular demographic. The Religious Right, after all, has gone decades without real opposition.
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