Atheists Will Protest at the DNC Later Today

The Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics will be holding a protest near the Democratic National Convention later tonight about the need for church/state separation in our government:

The protest will be held September 4, 2012, from 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Speakers Platform on the corner of Stonewall Street and Caldwell Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The protest will include speakers from the CAA discussing the necessity of the separation of religion and government in the United States.

This event is centered around the need for separation of religion and government. There is a need, even at the DNC, to make our voices heard in opposition to the overwhelming influence of religion in our political system.

There are some obvious questions coming up: Why protest at the DNC? Aren’t Democrats usually better about church/state separation issues than Republicans? Wouldn’t a protest have been more effective at the RNC?

The answers are pretty simple: Local groups organize the protests. The CAA is based in Charlotte, where the DNC is taking place, so they’re protesting there.

Yes, Democrats are better than Republicans in this regard, but they’re not great. President Obama has expanded the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. There are too many religious exemptions in the healthcare bill. Obama and many members of Congress attend/host Prayer Breakfasts. There’s plenty to protest.

And I would agree that a protest at the RNC would have been great, too, but local atheists didn’t get their act together in time to make it happen.

Hopefully, this will be more educational than argumentative. We don’t need to alienate the people who are more sympathetic to our side, but they need to be made aware that we are watching what they do when it comes to First Amendment issues and we’re not going to take any violations lightly.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ewan

    “Wouldn’t a protest have been more effective at the RNC?”

    Er, no. It wouldn’t. Because the Republicans are just going to ignore it, the Dems might at least listen a bit. This is a basic triage approach – you don’t put effort where the problem is worse, you put it where the problem is small enough theat you might be able to make a difference.

  • Jim Craig

    As a member of the CAA, I have a little insight to the people talking and, with one or two possible exceptions, I expect the speakers to give talks that are, as you say, more educational than argumentative. Our mission statement is “To create and foster a close-knit community of non-believers and to put a positive face on atheism through education, public outreach and community service. ” I fully expect the speakers to do just that.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Lol, Fox news is gonna have a field day with this one. “Confused atheists protest against their own side at DNC.”

  • Azphilosopher

    This so smacks of opportunism and not well thought out.  Whether Obama goes to prayer breakfasts or allowed the Office of Faith-Based blah, blah, blah to continue, the man is saddled  with the task of staying in office if he wants to bring the brain dead electorate into the 21st Century.  Him masquerading as a Christian President (I think he’s probably an atheist) and not taking on poison causes during a time when there are far more lethal ones is part of that reality.  These remaining months prior to the election are a time to hold your nose about your pet issue and work towards the big picture which involves getting him elected along with Congressional majorities.  That’s it.  On day one of his second term have at him.

  • Mary Snow

    I would like to dispel the myth that all atheists are Democrats.  In our group we have a number of atheists who identify more with libertarianism than they do with the Democratic party.  They’d probably be Republicans were it not for the social conservatism associated with that party.  Atheism is not a partisan thing.  Not believing in a god doesn’t automatically mean you’re in favor of government programs or whatever else the Dems are supposed to stand for.
    I see this event more as a demonstration than an outright protest.
    Thanks for the coverage, Hemant!

  • Shawn Murphy

    Hello. I am the president of Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics (CAA) and one of this evening’s speakers. I can shed a little light on today’s plans. I appreciate the American Atheists and the great work they do at the national level. I also appreciate that they are promoting our event today. However, their choice to promote it as a protest is causing quite a bit of confusion. Our plan today is a _demonstration for_ separation of government and religion, not a _protest against_ the DNC. CAA is a non-partisan organization. As such, we are not, as an organization, choosing sides in this or any election cycle.

    You are correct, Hemant, that we are demonstrating in Charlotte because we are the local group in Charlotte. It’s really not that the Democrats are in town but that a major political party – and along with it, national attention – is in town. Had the RNC been in Charlotte, we would have demonstrated then as well. Separation of church and state is a non-partisan issue, one that we find very important. We want to remind both parties and all of America that the wall of separation protects religious liberty for everyone.

    Similarly, had an American Atheists affiliate in the Tampa area organized a demonstration, I’m certain the AA would have promoted their event as well. We are lucky enough that our vice president, Mary Snow, had the foresight and initiative to organize today’s demonstration.

    You and our long-time member Jim are correct too in that this evening’s speeches will be largely educational.

    Finally, I’d like to thank you, Hemant, for the fine work that you do with this blog and for the second time, promoting CAA’s activities.

  • machintelligence

    Separation of church and state is a non-partisan issue, one that we find very important.

    A large and very vocal contingent of the Republican party appears to disagree with you.

  • vexorian

    Being much better than the republicans is not really a big achievement. It is sort of ironic to read this post and seconds  later find the post that details the democrat’s platform  awful opinion about “faith” .

  • DougI

    Here’s hoping they don’t get imprisoned in a “free speech zone”.

  • Mike Brownstein

    That or they’ll point to it as proof that atheists are secretly repubicans

  • Txphilospher

     as long as we let the christians decide the outcome of elections and then try to wedge our issues in between the battles the president will face upon election, we will continue to have no voice and no significance in public policy or society in general. Our “allies” need to know support is not automatic. I will continue to vote Green unless and until the democrats stop pandering to the middle and pay attention to the issues that are important to the nation as a whole.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

     Not that this will really happen this way, but it’s funny to think that some theists may hear that atheists are protesting against Obama and then the theists may start thinking that Obama must not be so bad after all.
    Warped, but possible. :-)

  • Revyloution

    Without viable 3rd parties,  this is vital to our democracy.  The large umbrella group covering everything left of center  will only be driven by those who are noisy.  Quietly waiting for politicians to come to you, hat in hand, to ask what your group wants will never work.
    Protest, Vote, Protest.

  • BadTiming

    Not really the right time for this. Simply put, Obama is the best option at present. A Romney/Ryan win would put us even further back. So, while I agree with the sentiment, this is a classic case of improper timing and “pick your battles”.

    This would be best done in another forum AFTER the election. Do not trade the devil you know for the devil you do not.

    Can’t really get behind this one.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Why is the Canadian Automobile Association wasting time, money and effort protesting American politics?

  • Joe Zamecki

    Oh if only Obama was our friend. State/church separation is something he simply doesn’t care about, and we’re right back to square one. We might as well have Bush back. The Dems are NOT a friend of state/church separation. 

  • Gus Snarp

    Our plan today is a _demonstration for_ separation of government and religion, not a _protest against_ the DNC.

    This was nice to read, it was exactly the comment that I wanted to make, that this should not be a protest, but more of a demonstration. I’m glad that’s the way you’ve seen it from the beginning.

  • Jessica Kraskian

     I wish I could attend there or anywhere in the US, but I am currently visiting Canada. Is there a petition or anything available to be signed by those who can’t protest?

  • GloomCookie613

    Good luck and good on ya’ll! :)

  • Marco

    They are hoping for a bailout?

  • witchgawd

    Should be a protest and there should have been a protest at the RNC as well. Both parties are responsible for the state of our nation. To lay the blame solely on one of the two major parties would be wrong. And as long as sheople vote their party lines there will be no change. Obomney is not what this country needs. Consider a third party and send a mesaage to the other two that what they’ve done and continue to do is unacceptable. You’ll never get what you want by voting for what you don’t want.

  • witchgawd

    Not my side. Don’t lump all atheists in with liberals because some of us actually have brains.

  • witchgawd

    Thank you.

  • smg77

    Sorry but as long as elections work the way they do in this country a third-party vote is a wasted vote.

  • Cortex_Returns

    It’s sad and disturbing to think that if you actually believe what you just said, that you’re more willing t0 vote for the lesser of two evils than to work toward dramatic change.

  • Cortex_Returns

    Thank you and all the CAA for this! I’m so glad we atheists (and those agnostics, too) will be represented, however unofficially.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I fail to see how a vote is “wasted” if it accurately reflects the considered opinion of the voter.

  • eskomo

    When George Bush Jr. won with less than a majority of the vote, he declared that the country had chosen him and his policies, and he would do as he saw fit. No compromising.