Saturday, July 29, 2006

Asserting our Humanism, by Melvin Lipman, cont'd

In 25 years, the Christian right has gone from their self-described "Silent Majority" to the "Moral Majority", and today, to the "Embattled Christians".

Singer and songwriter Holly Neer said it quite well. She wrote a song called, "I Ain't Afraid". And, part of the lyrics of that song are, "I ain't afraid of your Yahweh, I ain't afraid of your Allah, I ain't afraid of your Jesus, I'm afraid of what you do in the name of your god.

I'm not afraid of religion, I'm afraid of what people are doing in the name of their religions. The intent to completely break down the wall of separation between religion and government, has made anti-Humanist discrimination fashionable, with Humanists being depicted as without values and less than patriotic.

I mentioned the University of Minnesota study that was released this past March. It concluded that acceptance of religious diversity does not extend to those who do not believe in a God. When 2000 American households were sampled and asked which minority group shared their values of American society, Atheists were ranked below every other minority group. Atheists were associated with all kinds of immorality and criminality. Though today, Atheists--at least those that acknowledge they're Atheists--and they're unorganized as a group. They are seen as a major threat to the American way of life. Of the total U.S. poplulation of about 300 million, as I said earlier, it's estimated that about 30 million do not identify with any supernatural God. A conservative, which is that 30 million, is more than the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and any individual Protestant sect, combined.

So, we are a large group. But, if those 30 million remain in their closets, we have no voice. We need to raise the level of awareness, and the level of acceptance, of non-supernaturalists. We need to make the public aware that we're not devils, that we can be nice, kind, ethical people. How many of your neighbors know that you're Humanists? Probably very few--it's a topic that we try to avoid. We tend to live our lives separate from our Humanist identity, while others, literally, wear their identification on their sleeve or around their necks, or on the bumpers of their cars.

How many friends and associates, acquaintances, coworkers, know of your Humanism? That could be the reason we think we're so few--we simply don't know each other. If we are to be known, and to have a positive influence on our culture (and I shouldn't have to explain the need for that) we must identify ourselves. Not be ashamed of our beliefs.

For too long we've allowed our nation's leaders to ignore, or even actively oppose, the interests of Humanists. We're a growing constituency, and we have a right to the same respectful attention legislators give to other citizens, and now, with one voice, we can insist that it be delievered. If humanists are open about their beliefs, we can soon be as strong and powerful minority. But if we choose to remain in our closets, we'll soon find that the closet door is sealed shut, so that we cannot get out.

More to come.

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