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Barack Obama Gives Nonreligious Americans The Cold Shoulder

In this presidential election, Barack Obama has been pandering to religious Americans from day one, and working to get religious tax-exempt organizations involved directly in his political campaign.

Obama attacked “secularists” for trying to maintain the Democratic Party as a sphere clean of illegal infiltration by tax exempt churches. “Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square,” Obama warned.

Obama is bringing church-based campaigning right into the Democratic National Convention, with the first event of the entire convention being a supposed “unity” event:

“How do you kick off a week-long celebration to showcase our Party’s nominee, our strength, our diversity and our shared values? …the first ever Convention interfaith gathering — the first official event of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. See how you can join delegates, elected officials, clergy from many communities of faith and special musical guests as we gather in a spirit of unity.”

This supposed Democratic Party “unity” only goes so far: Nonreligious Americans are not invited. Ron Millar of the Secular Coalition for America wrote to the Democratic National Committee pointing out that “I have received complaints by people who identify as atheist and humanist who feel that this event excludes them as full participants in the convention.”

The Democratic National Committee has refused to even write a letter back to the Secular Coalition, much less to include nontheistic Americans in the event.

Imagine how it would seem if the Democratic National Committee made a European-American Inter-Ethnic Assembly the first event of the convention – and did not hold any event for Democrats of other ethnicities at any time during the convention. Americans of non-European descent would rightly regard themselves as excluded from full participation in the convention.

That’s exactly what the DNC is doing to non-religious Americans. Giving religious Democrats, and leaders of tax-exempt religious organizations, special access to political leaders in the Democratic Party, while excluding non-religious Democrats from that access, is not a way to demonstrate unity. It’s a way to promote divisiveness and discrimination.

The DNC put a Pentacostal minister, Leah Daughtry, in charge of organizing the Democratic National Convention, who declared, “For me as person of faith who has made God first in her life, it is symbolically important that the first thing we’re doing is coming together as people of faith to celebrate our faith traditions and to ask the blessings of God on us as we undertake this great civic responsibility.” Has no one in the Democratic Party explained to Ms. Daughtry that this convention isn’t supposed to just reflect her personal preferences as a Christian?

If the Democratic National Committee does not want to allow non-religious Americans to have equal access to the Democratic National Convention, then why should non-religious Americans give the Democrats their support? If the Democrats refuse to make an equal place for us at their convention, then the only place there is for non-religious Americans within the Democratic Party is the place of second-class citizens.

That is not a place that non-religious Americans ought to accept. As Barack Obama takes leadership over the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly hostile to non-religious Americans.

If the Democratic Party is going to be a religious party instead of a political party, then it’s time for politically aware non-religious Americans to leave the Democratic Party, and re-register as independent voters. Perhaps that will demonstrate to the Democratic leadership what the cost of faith-based pandering can be.

Activism opportunity: Send a message to Leah Daughtry about her decision to have the Democratic National Convention discriminate against non-religious Americans.

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