Dems and GOP Disrespect Major Constituency
Yesterday, I brought attention to a new survey conducted by Gallup about the numbers of adherents to various religious groups in the USA – and the numbers of people in this country who don’t adhere to any religion. Nationally, non-religious Americans of various sorts are at 13.2 percent of the population. That’s a big minority group, but in larger states, the secular minority is even larger.
The following are the states in which the number of non-religious people is above one-fifth of total state population:
Maine: 20.5 percent
Hawaii: 21.0 percent
Alaska: 21.4 percent
New Hampshire: 21.4 percent
Washington: 21.8 percent
Vermont: 23.6 percent
Oregon: 24.6 percent
Even in Alabama, non-religious residents make up 6.8 percent of the population – enough to make the difference in a close election.
It’s unwise for a political party to insult a minority group this large, but just what the Democrats and Republicans have done. Republicans have been putting non-religious Americans into a second class status for a long time now, in order to excite the support of religious extremists. Democrats joined them last year, excluding non-religious Americans from portions of the Democratic convention, giving honored status to religious bigots like Rick Warren, and pushing to expand religious discrimination by Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives – without any reform.
A political party that showed consistent respect to the large number of Americans who choose not to take part in religious worship could gain significant ground, especially when you consider that issues related to separation of church and state are appreciated by a sizeable minority of religious Americans. But, if the Democrats and the Republicans aren’t willing to show this respect, who will?
Consider the Green Party. The Green Party platform explicitly pledges to protect the rights of religious and non-religious Americans alike. That’s something the Democrats and Republicans won’t do. The Green Party platform reads, in a section entitled Religious Freedom and Secular Equality:
The United States Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion. We affirm the right of each individual to the exercise of conscience and religion, while maintaining the constitutionally mandated separation of government and religion. We believe that federal, state, and local governments must remain neutral regarding religion.
We call for:
a. Ending discriminatory federal, state, and local laws against particular religious beliefs, and non-belief. The U.S. Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for public office. This requirement should apply to oaths (or affirmations) for holding public office at any level, employment at all government levels, oaths for witnesses in courts, oaths for jury membership, and the oath for citizenship.
b. Prosecution of hate crimes based on religious affiliation or practice.
c. Elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money, or documents.
d. Restoration of the Pledge of Allegiance to its pre-1954 version, eliminating the politically motivated addition of “under God.”
e. Ending faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby public funds are used to support religious organizations that do not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.
f. Ending school vouchers whereby public money pays for students in religious schools.
g. Ending governmental use of the doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.
h. Ending religiously-based curricula in government-funded public schools.
i. Ending the use of religion as a justification to deny children necessary medical care or subject them to physical and emotional abuse.
j. Ending the use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.
k. Revocation of the Congressional charter of the Boy Scouts of America. Any private organization that practices bigotry against certain religious beliefs and classes of people should not have a Congressional endorsement or access to public property and funds.