Bernie Sanders Rejects Theocracy, Defends Church State Separation


Author: Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

Rejecting the Republican dream of a Christian theocracy, Bernie Sanders tells supporters it is “dangerous for governments to get deeply involved with religion.”

Justin Scott, an Iowan who takes his politics seriously, asked the Democratic presidential candidate for his thoughts on politicians who “base a lot of their legislation on their religious beliefs” at a recent campaign event in Iowa.

Sanders answered:

Religious freedom in this country is part of our Constitution, and all of us agree with that. And you have many different religions, and people have the right, in this country, to practice the religion that they believe in.

But we also have a separation between religion and state. We know how dangerous it is, historically, for governments to get deeply involved with religion… Let’s not confuse and merge religion and state. That is not what our Founding Fathers wanted, and they were right.

Sanders is right. The attempt by today’s Republican party to “confuse and merge religion and state” is dangerous, un-American, and a repudiation of the secular values upon which this nation was founded.

This is not the first time the progressive candidate has championed secular values. Earlier this year, in an uplifting viral video supporting Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, the presidential hopeful declared:

The problems we face did not come down from the heavens. They are made, they are made by bad human decisions, and good human decisions can change them.

Sanders, the longest-serving Independent in Congressional history, is currently a U.S. Senator from Vermont, and a favorite among progressives looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Sanders is a friend to freethinkers, and the enemy of conservative Christians. Religious News Service describes Sanders as “unabashedly irreligious” and “the anti-Bible thumper,” noting:

Sanders is the presidential contender most willing to dissociate himself from religion. Though he identifies as Jewish and by Jewish law is Jewish, he has freely acknowledged that he is not a religious person. He scored a solid zero from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition in its most recent scorecard and a 100 from the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Scoring a zero from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition is a badge of honor, and should be a ringing endorsement to the ears of every humanist, every atheist,every freethinker.

Last fall, Speaking out for women and gays, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders condemned so-called Republican “family values.”

Sanders, appearing on ABC’s “The View,” said “We have a very right-wing extremist Republicans Party” before explaining what Republicans really mean when they speak of family values:

Look, when Republicans talk about family values, this is what they’re saying: Their family values is that no woman in America should have the right to control their body. Their family values are that if you’re gay, you should not have the right to marry. That’s their family values.

And speaking at the conservative Christian Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, a blunt and plainspoken Sanders stated:

The views that many at Liberty University have, and I have, on a number of important issues, are very, very different. I believe in women’s rights and the right of a woman to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. Those are my views and it is no secret.

Currently Sanders enjoys a loyal and vocal base of support, yet it is not clear if he has the votes to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. However, ABC is reporting that Sanders’ popularity is making the Clinton campaign “nervous.”

Good News: Christianity Suffers Steep Decline in U.S.


Author: Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

Good news for rational people: A new study shows Americans are abandoning Christianity in record numbers while the number of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated continues to surge.

According to a comprehensive new study released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, every demographic group in the U.S. has seen a significant drop in people who call themselves Christians.

The survey of 35,000 American adults shows the Christian percentage of the population dropping sharply. In 2007, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey, 78.4% of American adults called themselves Christian. In 2014, 70.6% of Americans called themselves Christians, reflecting a drop of nearly 8%.

Pew also reports that the religiously unaffiliated, which includes atheists, agnostics, and those who claim “nothing in particular,” now make up 22.8% of the American population, up from 16.1% in 2007, reflecting a growth rate of nearly 7%.

Leading the exodus from Christianity is the millennials. Pew reports more than one-third of millennials now say they are unaffiliated with any faith, up 10 percentage points since 2007.

Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of religion research and the lead researcher on the new study, said:

We’ve known that the religiously unaffiliated has been growing for decades. But the pace at which they’ve continued to grow is really astounding.

Explaining the sharp decline of Christianity and the surge of those identifying as religiously unaffiliated,  David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said:

It’s because we’re right.

Noting that the stigma of coming out as an atheist is lessening, Silverman continued:

More people know the facts, and more people realize they are not alone. It’s now impossible for an atheist to think he is alone in this world. They are automatically empowered.

Commenting on the new numbers, Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, said:

America is transforming before our eyes. We are witnessing a tectonic shift from a nation nearly unified in its religiousness a generation ago, to an America where increasing numbers of Americans are rejecting religious doctrines and are living lives largely free of religious influence.

Lindsay registered one note of disappointment:

In a nation with 23% of the population unaffiliated, with many of these individuals atheists or agnostics, it is striking and regrettable that so few politicians are openly nonreligious. This is a testament to the stigma still attached to atheism. In time, however, that too should change, as Americans become more accepting of their many neighbors, friends, and relatives who are not religious.

Both Silverman and Lindsey speak to the stigma that is still attached to openly identifying as an atheist or agnostic in contemporary American society. But as Bob Dylan reminds us: “The times, they are a-changin.”

Bottom line: the new study from Pew is cause for celebration as Americans become less Christian, and more secular.

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A New Silent Majority!

The question: when will America’s fastest growing Religious Majority assert their power is raised by Ron Aronson in Alternet.

“According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey(ARIS) of more than 54,000 adults, between 2001 and 2008 the number willing to identify themselves as atheist and agnostic has gone from under 2 million to 3.6 million. Small numbers compared to the whole, of course, but most notably it’s a RISE of 85% of those willing to describe themselves as living without God during the years of our most overtly religious presidency.

Even more newsworthy, when the widely-scorned labels “atheist” and “agnostic” are replaced with specifics about beliefs (“There is no such thing” as God, “There is no way to know,” or “I’m not sure,” and added to those who refused to answer) it turns out that ÖVER eighteen percent of Americans do not profess belief in a God or a higher power.

According to ARIS, then, there could be as MANY as 40 million adult nonbelievers in the United States!

Consider: If these numbers are correct, nonbelievers amount to MORE than the highest estimates of African Americans or gays. Secularists are one of America’s LARGEST minorities. It is no longer possible to proclaim, as the Gallup Poll announced fifty years ago: “Nearly all Americans believe in God.” That is today’s most significant change.

So what explains the IMPRESSIVE increase among those willing to identify as atheist or agnostic? For those who think that books and ideas simply don’t matter, it is dramatic tribute to the success of the “new atheist” writers—including Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. To paraphrase the title of Dennett’s book, their goal has been to “break the spell” of religion—and they have evidently helped more Americans “achieve” that goal.

If a new confidence is in the offing it is also visible in the American Humanist Association’s scandalous Christmastime bus ads in Washington DC (“Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”). No less striking is the “Out” campaign (“Come Out,” “Reach Out,” “Speak Out,” “Keep Out,” “Stand Out,”) especially among students and young people.