Senator Tom Harkin: I Do Not Agree With Calling Secular People ‘Nonbelievers’

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke at last week’s Secular Summit & Lobby Day sponsored by the Secular Coalition for America, and audio of his speech is now online with video stills (his speech begins at the 2:20 mark below):

A couple of highlights:

… I do not agree with calling secular people “nonbelievers.” I have lots of friends who hold on to secular viewpoints and they are passionate believers; passionate believers in the First Amendment. They believe in justice. They believe in living moral and ethical lives. They believe in tolerance and nondiscrimination. So please, don’t refer to yourselves as “nonbelievers.”

We all remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s wonderful words, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” I would add, however, it doesn’t bend all by itself. It requires individuals who are willing to speak up and speak out. It requires affirmative acts of conscience and courage by those who have been excluded and discriminated against. And that’s what you folks are doing this week by coming to Washington and visiting your congressional offices. More broadly, that’s what the Secular Coalition for America is doing 365 days a year. You have made enormous strides for full inclusion, respect, and equal treatment. Know that — those of you who are here in this room and who are going up on the Hill — just know that that there are millions of people that you are speaking for in this country. You are not alone in this effort.

Harkin also spoke (by video) at last year’s Reason Rally. The guy’s been criticized (for good reason) for trying to get alternative medicine covered under ObamaCare, but it’s hard not to like him after you hear this speech.

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.


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