The Ten Point Vision for a Secular America

If you haven’t heard Sean Faircloth speak, you’re about to get a treat.

Sean was the “opening act” on Richard Dawkins‘ recent book tour and in the video below Sean shares his “Ten Point Vision of a Secular America.” The list begins at the 12:40 mark:

He elaborates on these points in his new book Attack of the Theocrats!

Would you add anything to his list?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

    The “Angry Atheist” is not a myth.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      And we have damn good reason to be mad.

    • GeoffM

      NathanDST – what kind of comment is that?  Looks like someone disagreed with you, so you’re transferring your own anger onto them.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        Did you watch the video? Notice where he says “there’s this myth about the ‘angry atheist’. . . “? That’s what I was responding to. I was correcting the idea that the “angry atheist” is a mythological creature. I’m not sure where you got the idea I was “transferring [my] own anger onto them.” 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          By that token angry theist isn’t a  myth either.  There’s plenty of those around as examples.    The myth goes that every atheist is angry, and most of the time.   That’s what’s false.    All people get angry every so often.

          • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

            I wasn’t aware that anyone considered angry theists a myth. Of course they exist. 

            All people get angry every so often.

            Maybe I’m misreading you, but that phrasing makes it seem that there isn’t a large contingent of atheists that are consistently angry with religion, religious privilege, and the crimes against humanity committed in the name of religion. In other words, that phrasing appears dismissive of something that’s very real. In a similar manner, the video presentation gave the impression that people don’t really need to think much about “angry atheists” because hey, they’re a myth, and the real ones don’t matter much. I’m not claiming that every atheist fits the “angry atheist” type, and I don’t know if a majority do, but I don’t think it’s a small number either. I consider myself fairly affable, but I can get pretty damn pissy about things as well. 

            Greta Christina gives an excellent talk about the subject that I got to hear in Minneapolis (although apparently she combined two talks into one at that event), but there’s a print version on her blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2007/10/15/atheists-and-an/

            Normally I don’t like to have my argument made by someone else, but I think she says it extremely well, and so for once, I’ll let her speak. Maybe I’ll have more energy to say my own piece later. 

    • EyesandEars

      Angry Atheist?  I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance that was all-inclusive of every American.  It changed into a prayer in 1954, excluding every American who did not hold religious belief or the right kind of religious belief.

      We have a Congress that is more interested in declaring that our National motto be “In God We Trust”  completely disregarding the great melting pot of this Country stated in “E Pluribus Unum” – “From Many, One”  and slapping the faces of at least 10% of Americans – many more if you apply the hidden meaning “Christian God.” 

  • http://www.facebook.com/loufcd Louis Shackleton

    Sean came and spoke at the Secular Carolinas Conference this past weekend, and then again at the Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear monthly meeting on Sunday night. He’s a great speaker and lots of fun to hang out with. 

    I think it’s safe to speak for the other officers of the SSA at UNCW who were in attendance when I say that Sean rocks as a guest speaker.

  • John Sherman

    I think that nine of the ten on the list are great, but I am sorry. I cannot get behind number 3. No one should be forced to act against their principles, even when those principles are harsh, Christian fundamentalism. If a fundamentalist pharmacist believes a particular medicine is immoral, he should not be forced to sell it, nor should he be told to get another job. We’re not talking about a government service that is given to all as a right or privilege (such as a drivers license or library card). We are talking about private individuals leading their private lives. Imagine an atheist who owns a bookshop being forced to carry or order Bibles for anyone who asked. EVERYONE has the right to live their lives the way they choose.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      So where do you draw the line? Let us say that a woman comes into a hospital, pregnant, but with severe, emergency level complications. The doctor believes that she will die, and the fetus, without an abortion. The only way to save one of them is have the abortion so the mother can live. But, he refuses to do so because his principles are very pro-life, and his principles say the fetus is an innocent child. He’s the only doctor available with the training to perform an abortion. Does he have the Right to live his life as he chooses, and let the mother (and the fetus) die? 

      • John Sherman

        Obviously in a society, there are SOME restrictions on how you live your life. Your right to live you life the way you choose does not include the right to hurt or oppress other people. There are laws on the books already about hospitals having to perform services in emergency situations. A doctor working in such a hospital would know beforehand that he or she might be called upon by law to perform an operation that went against their morals. 

        But for the most part, we are not talking about such dire circumstances. In most of the cases I’ve seen where one group is trying to force another group to act against its principles (even for good reasons), they are not edge-of-your-seat emergency life-and-death situations.But NathanDST’s argument is a little disingenuous. People will often set out the most extreme situation to counter an argument. “The woman will DIE and the ONLY doctor is not only Pro-Life but SO pro-life that he won’t do abortions even when the woman’s life is at stake.” I’ve heard similar arguments from people who support torture: “There are only FIVE hours before a suitcase NUKE goes off in NEW YORK and the ONLY terrorist who know here it is won’t talk!” (My apologies in advance. I DO NOT in any way, suggest that Nathan supports torture!) Even in the video, the speaker doesn’t says the pro-life pharmacist refuses the sell a morning-after birth control to a woman (the usual case), but a RAPE victim (the extreme case).

        • Anonymous

          But it is just those extreme situations that make this type of law necessary.  If a law is passed that they do not have to act on ANY situation that violates their beliefs, then that woman and fetus would HAVE to die… that rape victim would HAVE to take a chance on being pregnant.  I do not necessarily support forcing people to act against their conscience, but seriously, if you go into a profession where you might be forced to do something against your convictions or beliefs, I DO believe you should choose another profession rather than put people’s lives in danger so you can follow your beliefs or convictions.

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          Disingenuous? Not at all. As rlrose328 said, extreme situations are exactly what we need to consider in deciding not only what’s ethical, but also what should be required by law, and what shouldn’t. 

          That hypothetical I posed, that you seem so dismissive of? It wasn’t a hypothetical: http://www.salon.com/2011/05/26/abortion_saved_my_life/singleton/

          But you still haven’t answered the question: Where do you draw the line? You said that there should be some restrictions, so what are those restrictions? Do you draw it at rape? What about if it’s a rural town, and that’s the only pharmacy available? Say it *was* rape, but she doesn’t want to admit that (I don’t have to remind you that’s fairly common, right?)? 

          If you’re going to debate, then please, give me an actual point to debate with. At the moment, you’ve given very little, except being dismissive of extreme circumstances (which are the times when our principles are most needed).

    • Victoria

      I agree with rlrose328, going into this profession you are well aware that one of your duties will be to offer these services. If you are unwilling to do so, choose another profession. You could certainly ask another person working there to do it if it makes you uncomfortable but if you are the only person who is capable, it is your job to do so. Period.  It is the right of any person to have access to these health care services (assuming they have the means to pay for them) and it’s not okay for someone to force their beliefs on this person because he or she is in a position of power. Access to certain forms of health care is simply not comparable to the book selections available in your local book store.

    • Anonymous

      False analogy. Nobody is forcing you to become a pharmacist. But if you choose to do so, you are assuming a responsibility to treat those in your care in a professional and ethical way. That means you don’t get to impose your private religious opinions on them.

  • from the other side

    This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. It is my hope that fundamentalists will always be elected to congress to represent the rights of religious groups, as there should be members of congress to represent all opinions of the American people.  Religious people are not monsters and should be able express their rights as American citizens. This vision for a secular America points to a society that oppresses religious freedoms rather than embracing them.

    The often quoted “separation of church and state” was intended prevent government from regulating religion, NOT to keep religion from regulating government decisions. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people will include all religious and nonreligious points of view.

  • Cehbeach

    #8 is undoable, you can’t tell people who to vote for under any circumstances. The Constitution already has a ban on religious tests but that does NOT include telling voters for whom to vote. I’m also suspicious of #9, I get nervous when people have no problem using state power to tell people how to raise their kids. Also keep in mind that if you somehow intend to use the fed for this vague ‘standard’, you’re also going to run afoul of the 10th amendment

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      I don’t think Sean was was suggesting that we use the power of government to tell people who to vote for. But we, as citizens, can certainly encourage secular choices. As for number 9, I’m about to make you nervous: I have no problem using state power to tell people that religious beliefs that say it’s ok, and maybe even encouraged, to hit their children, do not give you any sort of legal defense or right to, in fact, hit their children. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/iain.carstairs Iain Carstairs

    I think the attempt to rebrand atheists as affable and compassionate is long overdue.  My experience of atheists – a few of which admittedly seethed with rage and caustic scorn (personality types common to probably any group large enough to allow some internal disconnect) – generally bears this out; of course, they can be as warm and conscientious as anyone.  Why not?  They’re human beings.

    It has to be admitted that cultivating these emotions generates oxytocin, a neurotransmitter produced by a relatively small group of neurons in the supra optical nucleus.  This molecule is medically so important for every major bodily system, especially the brain, that any trend encouraging its production must be a significant contributor to human health, and the essential hygiene of the brain.  The lack of oxytocin is one of the very factors responsible for human cruelty, a diluted form of which is the scorn and bitterness which atheists are trying to distance themselves from.

    So, while compassionate atheists should be welcomed all over the world, so should any school of thought which encourages compassion, and that would have to include mankind’s scriptures, all of which – without exception, and regardless of the abuses by those who chose not to follow their own scriptures – stress the cultivation of these healthy traits.


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