February 6, 2018

Forming a Secular Voting Bloc

According to their recent press release, the Secular Coalition for America and the United Coalition of Reason are joining forces "to engage nontheistic communities across the country and begin mobilizing the one-quarter of Americans with no religious affiliation into a unified voting bloc." I think this is a good idea, and I hope it succeeds. Despite our growing numbers, voter turnout among secular Americans has been relatively poor when compared to religious Americans. This needs to change if we hope to have a real voice in how we are governed. If efforts like this can get more atheists to register to vote and show up at the polls, that would be a good thing.

I was happy to see that the Secular Coalition appears to recognize the obvious obstacle to efforts like this: viewpoint diversity among secular Americans. Just because we are secular does not mean we share the same political views. Executive Director, Larry T. Decker was quoted as saying, "As the nontheistic community continues to grow, its voices continue to become more diverse and will encompass an increasingly wide range of viewpoints. What unifies these communities is their lack of religious faith and their shared secular values."

The secular left has a long history of opposing the religious right. It remains to be seen whether the secular left and secular right can find some common ground and work together to promote the sort of "shared secular values" Decker has in mind. I think this will be challenging, but I hope we can get there. This is one of the reasons I make an effort to refrain from disparaging those with whom I disagree politically.

Right before hitting "publish" on this post, it hit me that some people will object to my use of the phrase "voting bloc" in the title even though the same phrase appeared in the Secular Coalition's press release. Although I cannot speak for them, I am interpreting "voting bloc" to mean a group of people with at least some shared values (i.e., secular values) and not as meaning that everyone in the bloc will vote in the same way. I do not expect all secular Americans to vote the same way, and that's okay.