In the wake of anti-Freedom *From* Religious rulings in the cases of Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District (high school football coach leading prayer on the football field) and Carson v. Makin (forcing Maine’s program of funding rural private schools to have to include religious schools), the current SCOTUS is pushing America deeper and deeper into theocratic rule.
The problem, as I see it, is that we need more secular elected officials at all levels of government. Currently, just 2 of the 435 US House of Representative members identify as secular (Jared Huffman, CA-CD2, is a humanist and Jamie Raskin, MD-CD8, identifies as a humanist Jew). Zero of the 100 US Senators identify as secular. Source: Center for Freethought Equality PAC.
When compared to the roughly 30% of American adults who identify as “religiously unaffiliated” according to a 2021 Pew Research poll, about a .46% representation in the federal government (even lower if you account for the Executive and Legislative branches). Representative democracy is failing secular Americans. Despite the No Religious Test clause of the US Constitution in Article VI that states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” religion still plays a gate-keeper roll for many who would consider running for office.
As a humanist running for local office in Chesapeake, VA (School Board), I am trying to do my part to correct this egregious lack of representation in government. Separation of Church and State is one of the most integral parts of our government and the real reason our country has historically been such a beacon of light for much of the world.
In my very first speech to our local school board before I decided to run, I lamented that they offered a religious invocation ahead of their meetings. I called for it to end and fully plan on that being one of my first motions as a sitting member after this election November. In the wake of Kennedy, I know I can’t count on the courts to help defend our children from forced indoctrination and pressure to participate in religious ritual so I know I need to do it from the elected office if it is going to change.
The rise of the religious right to power, especially in the form of the Supreme Court, is rapidly turning this country away from a republic and into a theocracy. We need to recruit, find, and encourage more open atheists/humanists/agnostics/non-religious folx to run for all offices: local, state, and federal. We must counter the evangelical religious push to grab political power and use it to push their religion onto the rest of the country!
We need to stop being afraid that secular people are “unelectable” in a country that is growing more and more secular every year. If anyone needs any help getting started, I’m more than happy to help, as are organizations like the American Atheists, Center for Freethought Equality, and others.
If you want to help me in my small local race, I am currently running a donation drive to counter the $1,500 my Republican opponent donated to himself on June 13 (to add to his existing $5,200 self-donation in the first quarter, which I documented in this DailyKos article). Thanks to all, and hope to hear from some of you who are on the fence and ready to run!