Earlier this week I posted a blog about Jamie Raskin, a Democratic nominee for the Maryland senate seat who had received a $10,000 donation and endorsement from the Freethought Equality Fund PAC (FEF), a political action group founded by the American Humanist Association (AHA).
Raskin was given the money and it appeared to many he was an atheist and humanist so they applauded the decision, but then a Washington Post article came out that muddied those waters and painted Raskin as someone who wanted to distance himself from humanism and atheism.
In the article, Raskin stated, “I’ve never called myself an atheist,” he continued, “I’ve never pronounced upon the existence of a divinity before, and nobody has ever asked me.”
He went on to declare he is “100% Jewish” and that he sees himself as a “small ‘h'” humanist, whatever that means exactly.
“Well, polls have shown that more than 70 percent of Jews don’t believe in a personal God,” AHA’s Executive Director Roy Speckhardt told me on a phone call Thursday afternoon. Meaning that while Raskin may not call himself an atheist, and does call himself Jewish, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Speckhardt said he has sat down with Raskin, and assured me that Raskin gave his word he is “most definitely a humanist as defined by the American Humanist Association.”
To be clear, the AHA defines humanism as:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The key phrase here is “without theism and other supernatural beliefs.”
Yes, Raskin refuses to use the label atheist or nontheist, but as disappointing as that is, if you think about it, what politician, looking to win an election would? And isn’t it true that we aspire to a government where politicians don’t have to wear any religious label?
Raskin believes politicians should not talk about religious belief, so he doesn’t. I do believe that is ideal, but ignored the reality we live in and does sell atheists and humanists a bit short, but I do believe that should not disqualify him from being supported by the FEF because at the end of day, in congress, Raskin will fight for the rights of humanists and atheists and will continue the fight to uphold the separation of church and state.
He has also been announced as a speaker at this year’s Reason Rally on June 4, in Washington, D.C. a move someone wishing to run away from secularism, atheism, and humanism would not do.
At the end of my call with Speckhardt, I asked him point blank, because I do believe he is a man of integrity and honesty, that after vetting Raskin, if he believed he was the humanist candidate FEF donors believed he was and if he would fight for secularism and the rights of non-believers, and Speckhardt responded, “absolutely.”
So it is now my opinion that Raskin is deserving of the donation and supports of not only the FEF but the secular community as a whole.