U.S. workers now work more than employees in any other industrialized country. The U.S. also has one of the worst unemployment insurance plans. Many get no paid time off or sick days. Europeans, by contrast get more sick leave, holidays and vacations and better pensions. Studies show this is why, in part, they are happier, have less stress and insecurity and live longer than Americans.
Europeans and Americans once put in comparable hours until about 30 years ago. While left-leaning groups in Europe pushed for employee rights, right-leaning groups in the U.S. shifted power from employees and unions to corporations. The gap between rich and poor, by which we once judged the stability of “third-world” nations, is now higher in the U.S. than any other developed country.
Why do religious Conservatives put as much effort into fighting against regulating pollution-spewing industries as they do fighting for regulating what a woman does with her own body? Their focus on abstinence with no other sex education – even to protect against AIDS – has also resulted in more teen pregnancies and STDs.
Affirmative Action has helped women, African Americans and Hispanics achieve positions of power. Health care and minimum wage increases also help these groups, which Conservatives typically oppose. And with the Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices gutting the Voting Rights Act, critics fear this will lead to an increase in attempts to deter minorities – who often cast their ballots for Democrats – from voting.
Seniors and the poor
You would think the Religious Right would be more empathetic, since they tout themselves as being quite moral. However, if you look at politician scorecards, you’ll see this is not the case. Those most vulnerable are constantly facing Republican-inspired cuts Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the Food Stamp Program – while at the same time fervently protecting the Bush tax cuts to the rich.
The GLBT Community
There are more hate crimes and bullying of those not following the sexual orientation of the majority with suicides at record highs. It is the religious, typically, who foment this hatred, which includes Republicans routinely fighting against gay marriage and other such rights.
Besides the fact that the judge in Kitzmiller v. Dover ruled “intelligent design” was “creationism in disguise” and violated our First Amendment rights to separation of church and state, and despite there being zero evidence for ID, creationists (almost always Republican) introduce legislation yearly to sneak it into public schools. They have succeeded in some states.
Lawsuits against teaching ID in public schools argue that paying equal time to such notions corrodes understanding of the scientific process and hinders student performance in college-level science work.
The shift toward the right end of the political spectrum carries a decreasing respect for science, which is in keeping with religion’s tradition of suppressing and oppressing science. Research funding also dries up in favor of tax cuts to corporations.
It costs corporations more to provide humane living and slaughtering conditions for factory farm animals, so Conservatives typically oppose the same measures agribusiness opposes.
According to the Christian Research Institute, the animal rights movement is motivated by an “implicit or explicit rejection of God as Creator and of humans as made in His image and hence distinct from the animal world."
Advocates for animals, by contrast, have a worldview that is distinctly secular. In a 1984 reader survey by Animals Agenda magazine, 65% of respondents said they were atheist or agnostic.
Corporate cash drives opposition to environmental regulations including the denial of man-made climate change – a science uncontroversial among most scientists – making the “denial machine” an industry in itself (starting with denying the negative impacts of tobacco).
The Republicans’ tendency to vote no on regulating heat-trapping CO2 emissions can be due to another reason besides corporate political campaign contributions. According to Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), “Climate change should not concern us since God has already promised not to destroy the Earth.”
The Good News
Although the tolerance we’ve shown towards the Religious Right has only radicalized them, the number of those fed-up with their extremism has grown about as fast as a CEO’s annual bonus. We now have the numbers that will give us the power to stop the “religio-corporate” influence that has infested our democracy.
The secular movement is often dismissed as a “loosely bound” base of groups, but we can change that IF we change our name to something that resonates with a clear, positive focus that potential allies can relate to.
July 11 is your opportunity to bring about this political metamorphosis, when you can vote to change the name of the National Atheist Party, which is so negative-sounding to so many, to something with a far more empowering ring – the Secular Party of America.
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Kelly,C. “God Will Save Us From Climate Change: US Representative” Toronto Star 2010:11/13.
Kirby, D. “Abstinence, Sex, and STD/HIV Education Programs for Teens” Annual Review of Sex Research 2007:88.
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2006 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books).
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Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development “Income Distribution-Inequality” 2012.
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