August 13, 2008

DNCs Interfaith Service

With the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) quickly approaching, atheists must decide how to respond to plans to open the convention with a religious service for the first time in U.S. history. I believe that this represents a disturbing threat to church-state separation and am convinced that a response is necessary. The question is, what sort of response? It seems to me that we have at least two options worth considering.

The Secular Coalition for America took the lead in organizing the first type of response by asking the DNC to make sure that atheists were included at the planned interfaith service. You may recall that the door to this request was opened by Leah Daughtry, the Pentecostal minister in charge of the service. I applaud the Secular Coalition for quickly organizing a response and making it easy for us to request inclusion online via a form on their website.

The second sort of response has a much smaller chance of success, but it happens to be the one I favor. This response focuses on the inappropriateness of holding any sort of religious service at a political convention and calls on atheists to express their dissatisfaction directly to the DNC. This is the first ever religious service to open a convention, so why start now?

We all know the Democrats are pandering like never before to Christian voters. However, the decision to hold a religious service at the convention strikes me as an effort to pander to religious extremists because I have trouble believing that moderates give a damn whether having a religious service at a political convention.

As I've previously stated, the idea of including atheists at an interfaith service strikes me as somewhat silly. I suppose it could be perceived as less exclusionary in a sense, but holding the service in the first place represents a more serious sort of exclusion than who gets invited. What concerns me far more is the inappropriateness of honoring religion in a country founded on separation of church and state. And the idea that a Pentecostal is in charge of the service is simply the cherry on top of this disaster of a sundae.

If you'd like to contact Daughtry directly, you can do so here.

If you'd like to contact the DNC, you can do so here.

I'm doing both.

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