I went to a politically oriented meeting tonight, the first for me of what I hope to be many. It's been a lot of new lately.
I have long been desiring of making more connections with people who have social and political concerns, not based on fundamentalist ideology but based in reason. Weekly, I see the result of what happens when people don't learn to think for themselves, or make rational decisions, or make educated guesses. Or just informed opinions. As a physician, it is my job to redirect them in the ways that help them with their health, hopefully unpeeling the mask in front of their eyes. Their bad health problems didn't happen to them, they are the product of a series of bad decisions coupled with bad information, genetics, and their environment. With some rare exceptions, there is actually a lot you can do to get healthier. But it almost always involves you changing your view.
So, meanwhile, back at the rally, it was for the kickoff party for the Arizona branch of the Secular Coalition of America. This is a lobby group that brings forth the concerns of the nontheistic communities. We hear about the Christian Right, the Mormons, the Catholics, etc, constantly foisting their religious agenda on our system of laws. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Constitution explicitly states the separation of church from state.
There were great speakers. The first, one of the first openly gay elected officials in Arizona, she was clear, rational and concise. To the point, she gave many eloquent examples of the way that church groups have gained favored status over others with respect to what should be secular decisions. Like zoning laws and tax exemptions. Particular inroads that have been made, chipping away at our Constitutional right to protection from religion.
The second, our national rep in Washington. He also gave clear, specific examples of how religious organizations have been given many legal exemptions from standards and practices compared to secular members of society. And the dangers of allowing this constant favored status not only erode the foundation of our country, but also endanger children (amongst others).
I didn't come here to tell people to stop believing in God. I wanted to bring light to the fact that many here on Open.Salon and elsewhere feel helpless, voiceless and not represented because they are not affiliated with a church as their identifying group. That they may be atheist or agnostic or even theistic but still want our secular constitution to remain religion free. I want to work and live in a world where I don't have to go along with the group to keep my job, where my tax money doesn't give preferential status to groups that identify people to shame and hate, where my government makes decisions based on reason and ethics, not religion. Where humans are treated equally, whenever possible, with compassion. Where children are not victims of parental belief systems, and where adults are allowed to choose their choices. I wanted to let you know, there are others out there, totally normal happy healthy functioning members of society who do not believe in God and who want a voice in government.
I found these groups through the local Meetup, but there may be other ways. I am glad I can finally connect with actual other people, meeting in public and talking, instead of having to find solace solely through the internet. With that, I may be able to also go to the local version of the Stewart and Colbert Rally for Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive (mwhahahahah). I have found a group that meets to discuss key issues that affect us, and why they are morally and ethically and politically important for all.
If you think you can't or shouldn't get involved, that there is nothing that you can do, then the fundamentalists may have won. Don't let that happen, just start showing up. You can figure it out once you get there.