A Secular American’s Guide to the 2012 Election

Leave it to the college students to do the focused research on the presidential candidates.

Derek Miller of the Illini Secular Student Alliance recently gave a talk on the two mainstream presidential candidates and their stances on issues pertinent to Secular Americans.

That’s not to say you should only vote on atheist-y issues — Derek acknowledges that in the video — but this is still a really nice summary of where the candidates stand on issues we tend to talk about in our community.

Just so it’s clear, this is far from a commercial for President Obama. He’s criticized heavily throughout the video for many of his decisions.

In case you need a summary for quick viewing:

(0:00 – 3:55) Why does a candidate’s religion matter?
(3:56 – 16:57 ) Personal religious views of the candidates
(16:58 – 29:15) Candidates’ official positions on secular issues
(29:16 – 32:16) Concluding remarks and final grades
(32:17-35:33) Q&A and gossip about the Church of the Latter Day Saints

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.

  • kalimsaki

    A human satan said:
        “We want to experience all the pleasures and joys of life, and to make others experience them; don’t interfere with us!”
        I replied: Since you do not recall death and plunge yourself into vice and misguidance for pleasure and enjoyment, you should certainly know that due to your misguidance, all the past is dead and non-existent; it is a desolate graveyard full of rotted bodies. The suffering arising from those innumerable separations and the eternal deaths of those numberless friends inflicted on your head through the concern of your humanity and your misguidance, and on your heart if you have one and it is not dead, will soon destroy your insignificant drunken pleasure of the present. The future too, due to your unbelief, is a non-existent, black, dead, and desolate wasteland. And since the heads of the unfortunates who appear from there, sticking them out into existence while stopping by in the present, are struck off by the executioner’s sword of the appointed hour and thrown into non-existence, due to the concern of your intellect, it continuously rains down grievous worries on your unbelieving head, completely overturning your petty, dissolute pleasure.
        If you give up vice and misguidance and enter the sphere of certain, verified belief4 and righteousness, you will see through the light of belief that the past is not non-existent and a graveyard that rots everything, but an existent, light-filled world which is transformed into the future and into a waiting-room for the immortal spirits who will enter palaces of bliss in the future. Since it appears thus, it affords not pain, but according to the strength of belief, a sort of paradaisical pleasure. The future, too, appears to the eye of belief not as a dark wasteland, but where banquets and exhibitions of gifs have been set up in palaces of everlasting bliss by the Most Merciful and Compassionate One of Glory and Bestowal, Whose mercy and munificence are infinite and Who makes the spring and summer into tables laden with bounties. Since, knowing he will be despatched there, a person observes this on the cinema screen of belief, he may experience in a way the pleasures of the eternal realm. All may do this according to their degree. That is to say, true, painfree pleasure is found only in belief in God, and is possible only through belief.

  • cathouseumbrella


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CKQEXWUDO4UDPBRXPYVVIUOLFI Matt P

    I tried to write a response but you have left me speechless. Bravo!

  • 3lemenope

     The future, too, appears to the eye of belief not as a dark wasteland, but where banquets and exhibitions of gifs have been set up in palaces of everlasting bliss by the Most Merciful and Compassionate One of Glory and Bestowal

    The absolute last thing the Internet needs right now is a bunch of gifs portraying a blissful banquet in a palace. It’s not even everlasting, it’s just on loop!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

     ” If you give up vice and misguidance and enter the sphere of certain, verified belief4 and righteousness,”

    See, that’s the difference between you and us: we’re better able to handle the fact that we’re in an uncertain universe.

    “The future, too, appears to the eye of belief not as a dark wasteland,”

    In contrast with nonbelievers, I take it? As for me, I look excitedly to the future. I am part of an intellectual tradition that has lasted for thousands of years, and part of a social tradition at least a hundred times that: the rise of the sentient animal. Being alone in the universe just means that our achievements are that much greater. We have turned weakness to strength, overcome cruelty with mercy; ultimately, we alone hold the key to our future. This awareness is awe-inspiring, and sobering.

  • Bcaveney9

     Mmmm, delicious word salad.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde


    on topic: jill stein is probably the best of all the candidates, if atheism is your #1 issue. i tend not to be a single issue voter, myself. politics are too complicated for that to work well in choosing who will get my vote. 

    that said: of the two mainstream candidates, i’m annoyed that obama won’t admit what he really is, which is probably agnostic if not flat out atheist. anyone who has spent time at elite universities like harvard, columbia and chicago know that there are three types of people at them (excluding divinity school, where it gets a bit more complicated): people who are deeply, and publicly religious, and who are ‘campus crusader’ types; people for whom religion is a mild affectation that rarely comes up in the classroom or campus conversations and people who are -if not out and proud about it- firmly atheist or agnostic. it’s generally considered bad form to talk too much about your religious beliefs at schools like those, and the last group is far, far bigger than it is in the general american public. 

    no one ever talks about obama’s religious habits *before* he came to chicago, my bet is he probably didn’t go to religious services at all. picking wright’s church was a calculated political move designed to ingratiate him with the elite of that part of chicago the better to set up his various runs for office that eventually led to highest office. and i note few talk about his actual religious habits now that he’s president. in fact, i can’t think of anything i’ve read that does, and i read a lot of political news (albeit mostly left leaning sources). but my point is that if you could talk to him directly, and there were no cameras around, i’m pretty sure if he honestly answered, he’d say “religion, meh” like the vast majority of faculty at the UofC. 

  • Coyotenose

     I believe Bart Simpson said it better than I can:

    “Look, if you’re gonna stay in my room, could you at least stop
    making up gibberish?”

  • Sven2547

    It’s getting harder and harder to convince myself that religion is not a mental illness.

  • Baal

    kalimsaki – you get one life and then it’s game over.  How about putting down the teachings that have left you somewhat incoherant and join us in reality? (just for a short time, god is merciful and will give you a rest) Here’s the one rule: you can do anything you like to be happy so long as you’re not inflicting harm on others.  Give that a go for a few weeks and see if you find your life (and those around you) to be better (or not, please report back).

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    A whack at Google Books indicates that’s an excerpt from Bediüzzaman Said Nursî’s “The Rays Collection”.

  • Deven Kale

    This is a great example of why it’s a bad idea to say what things are like for people of a different belief system than yourself.